Internationsl Centre for Reindeer HusbandryASsociation of World Reindeer Herderssa-sucAbout Reindeer Husbandry
Snow temperature measurements, traditional knowledge and new technologies - Winter field work begins
Written by Philip Burgess   
Monday, 19 November 2007 00:00
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dscn4194001Work Package 3 is entitled Reindeer herders’ knowledge: codifying and communicating coping mechanisms. The objectives are to codify herders’ experience and perception of climate change, their coping mechanisms and their perception and assessment of risk associated with different coping options.

Knowledge, language and snow are intertwined in this work package, and now that winter has arrived in Kautokeino/Guovdageaidnu, the time for field work has begun

A major goal of this winter's field work is to measure temperature data through different levels of the snow pack, from the ground upwards and through the use of measurements taken over the winter, build an accurate long terms picture of what is happening temperature wise in the snow pack over time. Thermacroms have been placed in the snow and they will be left in situ and their data downloaded when the snow melts.

Another component of this work package is its links with work package 1, in particular with Dagrun Vikhamar Schuler of the Norwegian Meteorological Service who is using the SNOWPACK computer modelling software, developed in Switzerland and extensively used as an avalanche prediction service. Dagrun will input the measurements gathered by researchers in the field in Kautokeino, where there is also a weather station. The weather station in Kautokeino measures air temperature but not ground temperature. The SNOWPACK model requires an input for ground temperature and it is usually assumed that this is 0 degrees, a figure which is often correct in regions where there is deep snow cover (1.5-2 metres) such as in the Alps and Southern Norway. However, in Kautokeino this is not the case so the field work will assist in fine tuning the data inputted into SNOWPACK.

Pictured below are Inger Marie Gaup Eira and Isak Mathis O. Eira in the field. This trio nicely encapsulate the special character of the EALAT project. A Sami researcher and Phd student from the Sami University College (Mikkel Nils Sara), a reindeer herder, linguist and Phd student (Inger Marie Gaup Eira) and a reindeer herder and traditional knowledge bearer (Isak Mathis O. Eira) in the field discussing climate, temperature and snow terminology in the Sami language (Pics: Svein Mathiesen).



Snow has already begun to accumulate on the ground.

The temperature through the snow pack is important, but the temperature on the ground is a key factor, which computer models such as SNOWPACK (used in Work Package 1) have not taken into account. Data from this winter then will go some way to filling in these knowledge gaps.

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