Snowpack changes in Arctic Russia

Location: Khibiny Mountains, Kola Peninsula, Russia. Lat & Long: 67.639°N, 33.718°E

Leader: Rebecca Vignols   Members: Iain Rudkin, Gareth Rees, Mikhail Zimin, Yulia Zaika

Affiliation: Cambridge University, British Antarctic Survey

Objectives: We will collect scientific field data in the Russian Khibiny Mountains. This will enable the study of the spatial and temporal evolution of various snow parameters throughout the melt season: snow extent, snow-water equivalent, density, albedo, grain size, liquid-water content and snow depth. We will stay in the Khibiny Educational and Scientific Station

Dates: 5 April to 25 May 2016

Contact (through the Arctic Club):

Supported by: NERC; Newnham College Cambridge Research and Travel Grant; Santander Mobility GrantGino Watkins Memorial Fund

Report: Snowpack in Russia 2016

Rebecca Vignols reports:

April 4: Gareth Rees flies to Moscow.

April 5: Rebecca Vignols and Iain Rudkin fly out to Moscow.

April 6: Gareth, Rebecca and Iain meet up at the Moscow airport to board their flight to Apatity/Kirovsk. Unfortunately, the flight was redirected due to bad weather conditions. The plane had to land in Murmansk, about 100km further North than the Khibiny mountains. We waited for a bus, and, a 3-hour drive later, we arrived at the Moscow State University (MSU) field station! There we met with Yulia Zaika, our main contact with MSU for the project.

April 7, 8 and 9: reconnaissance days with Gareth Rees who knows the area. Getting to know the town of Kirovsk, seeing the different mountains and valleys, trying to choose the various areas where measurements will be made.

Snowpack 1  

Week 1 – April 10 – 16: Start of fieldwork

Lower altitudes are all covered in snow! We have decided to make measurements in 7 different areas. Getting used to the different techniques for the measurements of snow parameters and setting up a routine.

Week 2 – April 17 – 23: Lots of snowfall and some very cold days.

Week 3 – April 24 - 30:

April 26: Amelia Fischer-Linnett arrived, to spend a week at the station helping out with measurements.

April 28: first day off! Went on a 5h skidoo trip to the North-East of the mountain range in the brilliant sunshine.

April 29one of our only wildlife encounters: a fox visited us at one of our measurement sites! Up until this point, the only wild animals we had seen were white hares.

April 30: we dug our deepest pit yet: 2.9m!

Week 4 – May 1 – 7: Spring has definitely arrived – this week some of our lower measurements sites have completely melted out.

May 2: crossed frozen lake.

May 3: we have dug our 100th pit! We are hoping to be able to reach 200 pits by the end of the fieldwork, though this may become difficult as snow melts and measurement sites become fewer and far between!

Snowpack 7  
Snowpack 5 Snowpack 3 Snowpack 9 Snowpack 2
Snowpack 6 Snowpack 8 Snowpack 4b
© Rebecca Vignols