TundraCam: A live "steerable" mountain webcam

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Where is TundraCam?

High Altitude: TundraCam is located 64 km (40 miles) northwest of Denver, Colorado (USA) at an elevation of 3528m (11,600'). The cam is only 27 km (17 miles) west of Boulder, Colorado, shown above. More specificaly, it lies above timberline on Niwot Ridge in the Front Range mountains. The peaks at the head of the ridge form the Continental Divide.

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What is TundraCam used for?

Multiple uses and users: TundraCam is used regulary for research and education by the research groups sponsoring it as well as the general public. The cam enables real-time monitoring of factors such as cloud cover, snow drifting, snow-melt patterns, and vegetation changes. You can also occasionally see scientists studying the high-altitude environment, often tending to instruments and using facilities such as the Subnivian Lab shown above (actual TundraCam winter image). Prominent landscape features like the top of Long's Peak at 4345 m (14,255 ft) are also visible. Students can use the camera as part of a virtual field trip to the site, or to revisit the site after an actual field trip.

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How does TundraCam work?

Can be driven by anyone: TundraCam is attached to a meteorological tower, about 10 m (~33 ft) above the ground and above the level of blowing snow. A robotic arm and special software allow the camera to be rotated and zoomed from a web browser. The camera's housing is designed to withstand wind chill factors lower than -57°C (-70°F) and winds above 72 meters per second (160 miles per hour). The camera's power is supplied by AC line power that extends to the Tundra lab.  The connection to the internet is via a Cat 5 serial cable to the Tundra Lab, and then via a four mile buried fiber optic cable to the INSTAAR Mountain Research Station.

Who runs TundraCam?

TundraCam is sponsored by several research units at the University of Colorado at Boulder:

Niwot Ridge LTER
Niwot Ridge was established as a site in the National Science Foundation sponsored Long-Term Ecological Research Program in 1980. The entire site lies above 3000 m elevation and research topics include the patterns and controls of nutrient cycling; trace gas dynamics, plant primary productivity and species composition; geomorphology, and paleoecology.
INSTAAR - An Earth and Environmental Systems Institute
INSTAAR develops scientific knowledge of natural and anthropogenic physical and biogeochemical environmental processes at local, regional and global scales, and applies this knowledge to improve society's awareness and understanding of environmental change.
INSTAAR Mountain Research Station
An interdisciplinary research facility devoted to mountain ecosystems. Its mission is to facilitate research and education to better understand the unique patterns and processes of biological and physical systems in mountains, and how environmental changes may affect these processes.
INSTAAR Glaciology Group
This group studies ice-flow dynamics and calving, sub-glacial and englacial hydrology, sea level change as controlled by the earth's small glaciers, climate change and glacier mass balance, heat exchange within snow pack.

TundraCam website and TundraCam maintenance:

The current website was designed and built by David Lubinski, Shelly Sommer, Todd Ackerman, and Bill Manley (all at INSTAAR) based on previous work by Todd Ackerman (INSTAAR), Joel Harper (Univ. of Montana), Tad Pfeffer (INSTAAR), and others.

TundraCam has been maintained and supported by a number of individuals in recent years including Jennifer Morse, Hope Humphries, Todd Ackerman, Kurt Chowanski, Mark Losleben, Tad Pfeffer, and others.

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TundraCam rotates within a plexiglas dome for a full panoramic view. You can point at any feature you like and zoom in to see further detail.