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Abstract

Hendrikx, J.; Harper, A.; Development of a National Snow and Ice Monitoring Network for New Zealand

Depending on the pace of global climate change, snow and ice are two resources that are likely to show significant change over the next 20 to 100 years. Such changes will have substantial impacts on the long-term planning for water resources and the daily operations of hydro-electricity generation, agriculture and tourism/skiing industries. These changes will also affect all aspects of the alpine and downstream environments, with influences on the hydrological cycle, erosion and land stability, biodiversity, and recreation in these areas. In 2006, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) started to develop the National Snow and Ice Monitoring Network (SIN), an expansion of the climate station network, to better observe and quantify changes in the cryosphere. The new network has two primary aims: first to gain a better understanding of snow and ice in terms of a resource and a hazard; secondly, to assess the future impact of climate change on snow and ice. This means that NIWA and New Zealand have both a real-time and a long-term need for the data from these sites. New Zealand lacks a good record of historical snow data, and the previous climate network configuration had poor coverage of areas at higher elevations. We discuss the instrumentation, location selection and installation of the new SIN sites. The resulting climate station configuration greatly improves the coverage of land areas above 1,000 m in elevation.

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