Project Overview

The impacts of storm type and air mass on the oxygen and hydrogen isotopic content winter snow.

Faculty Sponsor

Adam Burnett (




This project involves the study of daily snowfall in central New York, with emphasis on the sources of the water vapor for each snow event and the associated snowfall mechanisms. The snow that falls in central New York comes from a variety of storm types and water vapor sources, including regional-scale low pressure systems, Great Lake-effect, and combinations of each.  Furthermore, snowfall can be enhanced by topographic lifting that occurs across this region.   Distinguishing the relative contributions of different snow producing events to an overall storm is a challenge.  Previous research has shown that the stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen in the snow provide a signal of where the water originated.  Thus, it can be used to distinguish the differing contributions. This project will build on a set of snow samples that have been collected over the past five years.  Several of these samples have already been processed but many remain (more are being collected with each new snow event). This summer research project will focus on two tasks. First, the remaining snow samples will be analyzed to determine their isotopic composition.  This will be done on a Liquid Water Isotope Analyzer (LWIA) located in Ho 415.  Second, the resulting data will be used to construct relationships between the isotope values of the snow and the weather events that occurred on those days.  I’m specifically interested in the storm systems and air mass types that were occurring during the snow event.  This will involve weather map analysis and basic statistical techniques.

Student Qualifications

The successful student will have completed the introductory physical geography course (GEOG 231) or GEOG 332 Weather and Climate. Some experience with basic statistics is also preferred.  

Number of Student Researchers

1 student

Project Length

10 weeks

Applications open on 10/03/2023 and close on 02/28/2024

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (