Alpine Climatology of Glacier National Park

Science Center Objects

Glacier National Park is a topographically diverse region, making localized effects of elevation, aspect, and cold air drainage several of many important factors that necessitate a diversity of long-term climate monitoring sites. Additionally, many studies have shown more rapid warming at higher elevations across the Intermountain West, but with relatively few high-elevation stations available in the region it’s difficult to estimate the magnitude of these changes along with the suite of potential impacts on montane to alpine ecosystems. Here we use our network of valley to high-elevation meteorological stations that are arrayed across Glacier National Park, and have been in operation since 1993, to identify trends and variability in biophysically important hydroclimatic metrics. We also take a closer look at potential surface feedback processes associated with the presence or absence of snowpack, and specifically the timing of its meltout.

Map of CCME weather stations.

Glacier National Park is a topographically diverse region, making localized effects of elevation, aspect, and cold air drainage several of many important factors that necessitate a diversity of long-term climate monitoring sites. Additionally, many studies have shown more rapid warming at higher elevations across the Intermountain West, but with relatively few high-elevation stations available in the region it’s difficult to estimate the magnitude of these changes along with the suite of potential impacts on montane to alpine ecosystems. Here we use our network of valley to high-elevation meteorological stations that are arrayed across Glacier National Park (Fig 1), and have been in operation since 1993, to identify trends and variability in biophysically important hydroclimatic metrics. We also take a closer look at potential surface feedback processes associated with the presence or absence of snowpack, and specifically the timing of its meltout. Change and variability in metrics such as temperature, wind, net solar radiation, snow depth/cover, and relative humidity are assessed at daily to decadal scales and will be integrated into ongoing projects monitoring changes in alpine vegetation, snowpack, and glacier mass balance. These data are essential for ongoing ecological monitoring and modeling projects, addressing wildlife habitat and disease related issues, and informing current and potential future resource management practices.

Project Description

Meteorological measurements have been collected at the listed sites for various periods of time since 1993. This site will post annual summaries for currently operating stations.

Available Station Summaries (USGS Archive): 

Link to other climate sites

Current GNP weather data
Climate Analysis Tools (USGS Archive) 
Long-Term Snowpack Variability and Change in the North American Cordillera (USGS Archive)
Flattop Snotel
NOAA weather
GNP Webcams

Table 2.0 This table shows the average temperature of recorded data at each site throughout the duration of the collection perio
Table 2.0 This table shows the average temperature of recorded data at each site throughout the duration of the collection period. Note, this is not a true average, but an overall average of days collected.

 

Table 1.0. This table displays the elevation of each site and the period of record when temperature was recorded, although much
Table 1.0. This table displays the elevation of each site and the period of record when temperature was recorded, although much of these data were collected intermittently.

 

 

 

 

Graph of average temperature at Alpine Weather Station in Glacier NP, water years 1994-2010.