Kate Hale, PhD

Incoming Assistant Professor | Geography Department | University of British Columbia

A sunny afternoon in a 2 m snow-pit to evaluate the vertical snowpack profile. Depth, density, temperature, liquid water content, and stratigraphy served as ground-truth information for weekly Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys in spring/summer 2019 on Niwot Ridge in the Colorado Front Range, USA. Photo credit: Nick Edwards.

Digging in

I am a snow hydrologist and my research goals goals include characterizing snowpack, climate, and ecohydrologic variability to identify drivers of water availability in alpine and Arctic watersheds. I aim to develop collaborative approaches with diverse stakeholder groups to inform water management and develop strategies for conservation, adaptation, and mitigation. 

My current projects include 1.) Data assimilation and modeling to improve Alaska snow water equivalent assessments (SWE) over NASA SnowEx study domains, an area where SWE measurements and relevant observation networks are particularly sparse due to extreme topographic gradients and the state’s vast spatial extent; and 2.) Developing modeling, remote sensing, and UAS work flows and research questions over cold regions in Northeastern USA in collaboration with neighboring snow observation groups.

The following themes drive my research pursuits to understand cold region hydrology: Snowpack water storage heterogeneity and related hydrologic partitioning impacts, and historical and future variability in spatial and temporal hydrologic sensitivity to changes in climate and snow water storage. I broadly ask, how do snowpack heterogeneity and snow water storage influence seasonal to annual water availability, water quality, and water use across spatial scales, across climates, and as warming transforms alpine to ephemeral snowpack seasonality? My projects leverage ground-based observations, remote sensing, and computational modeling to obtain a comprehensive understanding of snowpack distribution and snowmelt-derived hydrological processes. 

I firmly believe that science will be more impactful and more relevant when the scientific community reflects the diversity of society. Addressing the challenge of achieving equity in science is integral to my role as a scientist and educator. I believe such efforts will foster better outcomes for our environment.