Enhanced Snow and Precipitation Monitoring within Minnesota Portions of Watersheds Draining to Lake Superior
In the Minnesota portions of watersheds which drain to Lake Superior, the climate is influenced both by the proximity to a large expanse of open water acting as a moisture source and by large variations in elevation. It is generally expected that variations occur much more rapidly in directions perpendicular to the shore than along it. However, most of the historical and current observations are or were taken immediately adjacent to or within one or two miles of the actual shore. Few measurements are available to document what is happening climatologically in the region between the shore proper and 10 or more miles inland. The understanding of the water balances over the areas of the watersheds, especially that due to rapidly varying precipitation and snow patterns from shore to the inland ridges, is similarly limited.
Dense volunteer networks of precipitation and snowfall observers have been operating in Minnesota for decades. The Soil and Water Conservation Districts of St. Louis, Lake, and Cook counties currently have nearly 60 precipitation observers with approximately ¾ of them observing all winter. This project would build on the existing infrastructure by identifying and recruiting additional observers, especially at places in the watersheds north of MN Highway 61. The project would provide for planning, recruitment, and training meeting costs as well as for observing and training equipment costs. The enhanced observing system would continue to operate after the term of the grant under the auspices of the State Climatology Office and its collaborators. The Office digitizes, archives, and makes the volunteer precipitation data it receives publicly available via the World-Wide-Web.
Most new observers would be within the CZM boundaries but since the watersheds, which supply water to the rivers within the zone, may partially lie beyond the CZM boundaries, at least some additional observations may be required at positions just outside of the CZM.