Watching snow (melt?) from space

Friday 22 April at 6.00pm 2022, at the Presbyterian Community Centre, 91 Tenby Street, Wanaka.
Dr Todd Redpath, School of Geography and School of Surveying, University of Otago, University of Otago.

Seasonal snow plays an important role in Aotearoa New Zealand. Many of us enjoy skiing on it in the winter, but it also acts as a substantial reservoir of freshwater and performs important functions within the climate system. Snow is highly dynamic in time and space: once it settles on the ground it can be eroded and transported by the wind then re-deposited elsewhere, while rates of metamorphism and melt are strongly influenced by elevation, slope and aspect. In New Zealand, long term, high quality observations of seasonal snow are rare. This limits our understanding of seasonal snow processes, and climate change impacts – especially in the context of a high degree of natural spatial and temporal variability.

This talk will explore what we know about seasonal snow in Aotearoa New Zealand. And, perhaps more interestingly, what we know we don’t know, and ongoing research addressing these knowledge gaps. I will focus on the important role that satellite observations play in regions that are otherwise under-observed and how they are used to build understanding and support modelling efforts.

Hailing from Invercargill, Todd was fortunate to grow up snowboarding on the mountains of the Southern Lakes. He completed a BSc and MSc in Geography at the University of Otago and then worked in the forestry sector in Southland for several years. He returned to Otago to undertake a “PhD in snow”, which he completed in 2020. He now works as a Lecturer in the Schools of Geography and Surveying at Otago. His research remains focused on seasonal snow in the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana, primarily within a Deep South National Science Challenge funded project that aims to improve the representation of seasonal snow within the New Zealand Water Model. He is a founding member of the Mountain Research Centre at the University of Otago, and a board member for Protect Our Winters Aotearoa.