Overview – Dust on Snow Field Stations 2023 Workshop

The Dust on Snow Field Stations 2023 Workshop, located in the Four Corners Region, is crafted by an interdisciplinary group of stakeholders to forefront how visual and design modes of thinking can aid an array of disciplinary approaches to address issues relating to the sources and impacts of dust deposition on snow.

This collaborative Environmental Design Workshop focuses on analyzing sources and impacts of dust deposition on snow in the San Juan River Basin in southwest Colorado, with the intent to generate practical design proposals that help regional communities and beyond tackle these critical issues. The goal of this design workshop is to identify and design solutions to our current dust on snow problem in the Southwestern US.

Sources of dust on show include, but are not limited to: land management practices, soil stabilization, crust disturbances, and water retention. One particular need is to design solutions that improve communication and education to bring communities together to act holistically across the landscape through connection to the entire system.

Aside from specific dust sources that designers can propose solutions for, for example, crust disturbances, conventional agricultural and grazing practices, wildfire prevention, there is the additional need to convey to the general public, public health officials, policymakers, and regional stakeholders, how the complex system of dust deposition on snow affects everyone.

There is a wealth of scientific data that exists on the impacts of dust on snow on stream flows. What we don’t have is a greater understanding that conveys the feedback loops that connect sources of dust to impacts on snow, and thus, how that affects water levels. Dust that is generated in the lower Four Corners region to land on snow cover accelerates melt, and comes back down in stream flow, in a circular loop that substantially diminishes annual water levels. We have to get connected on this issue.