Niwot Ridge LTER Installs ‘TundraCam’

Network News Spring 2000, Vol. 13 No. 1
Site News

The ‘TundraCam’ is the latest addition to the “virtual fieldtrip” program at Niwot Ridge. This real-time, directional and magnification photometric device allows web surfers to look from the Continental Divide, across the main LTER study areas, and on down to Denver and the plains.

See the TundraCam Online at:

The TundraCam is a live and interactive webcam located at an elevation of 11,600 feet in the Colorado Front Range. The camera is above timberline on Niwot Ridge, about 25 miles west of Boulder. The peaks at the head of the ridge form the Continental Divide.

This camera can be controlled by anyone; a robotic arm and special software allow the camera to be panned and zoomed from a web browser. The software allows multiple users to control the camera at one time.

The camera is mounted on a weather tower located at the Tundra Laboratory, one of several research labs within the biosphere. Research conducted at this site is focused on a wide variety of topics, from alpine ecology to snow hydrology to atmospheric chemistry.

The camera is used for both research and educational purposes. The camera enables real-time monitoring of factors such as weather conditions, snow drifting and snow-melt patterns, or vegetation changes. 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.

The TundraCam is located within a Biosphere Preserve (designated by UNESCO, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Forest Service), which has also been selected by the National Science Foundation as the alpine tundra component of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. The research facilities at the area are operated by the University of Colorado's Mountain Research Station, part of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.