As demonstrated to a group of University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) undergraduate environmental science students on Saturday 5 November 2016, quality observational data are essential to validating land surface and climate model simulations. To simulate the current and future climate, a sound understanding of the land and atmospheric processes involved is essential. This is a key objective of the CNRCWP network, and students were presented with how these observational data are used to validate land surface energy models (e.g., CLASS) and regional climate models (RCMs) such as CRCM5, and its importance prior to predictive simulations.
Students visited a weather station that is part of the Cariboo Alpine Mesonet (CAMnet) led by Dr. Stephen Déry. The CAMnet Ancient Forest site is a prime example of why it is important to fill geographical gaps in observational data collection in alpine terrain, remote locations, and at higher elevations in the Cariboo Mountains and throughout Canada. It also demonstrates that regions in close geographical proximity can have drastically contrasting climates, which is only understood and quantified through reliable observations. As the number and density of observational sites increase, our understanding of these systems and ability to simulate them will be enhanced. These sites will contribute to the ability to detect climate change at high elevations and how this will impact snow and ice in these locations, among many other climate analyses.