- Location: Italy; 45.84°N, 7.58°E
- Operational Management: Environmental Protection Agency of Aosta Valley, Italy
- Purpose/Scientific Focus: Torgnon Basin is located in Aosta Valley, on the Italian side of the European Alps. It consists mainly of two observational sites located in an alpine grassland and a larch (Larix decidua) forest. Sites were established in 2008 as long term ecological research sites to provide science-based evidence for decision-making on climate change impacts, water management, biosphere and carbon cycle. Collected observations and ancillary data have been used as test-bed to help resolve deficiencies in hydrological, snow, ecological and carbon cycle models in the mountains.
- Location (Physiographic Region): North-Western Eurpoean Alps.
- Area: ~20 km2
- Elevation: Min. 1,800 m to Max. 3,200 m
- Description (Physical–Ecological–Climatic Characteristics): Mountainous landscape with a complex geology and glacial history, and thick till deposits. Sporadic permafrost at high elevations and north-facing slopes (~5% of the basin). Alpine climate; conditions are somewhat continental (low precipitation in summer) as the basin is situated close to the east-west axis of the main valley. Distinct ecological biomes include alpine vegetation, meadows and grasslands and coniferous forests.
- Drainage/River System: Main stream (Petit Monde) within the Dora Baltea River Basin, part of the Po River system.
- Site History/Historical Context: Initiated as a long-term multidisciplinary research project in 2008.
- Glacierized Area (% and year(s) measured): No glaciers, but some small perennial snow drifts on leeward slopes at high elevations.
- Main Land Cover(s): Coniferous forests, grasslands, open meadow and shrub tundra at the higher elevations, and exposed alpine areas with mostly bare rock at the highest elevations.
- Lithology/Soils: Primarily metamorphic acidic rocks capped by a mantle of till on average 0.5-2 m thick, as well as glaciofluvial and glaciolacustrine deposits. Well drained soils with coarse parent materials. Surface organics commonly extend to depths of 0.3 m. Main soil types: podzol, cambisol, inceptisol.
- Mean Annual Temperature: 3.66°C
- Mean Total Annual Precipitation: 891.5 mm
- Snow Characteristics: Above treeline, snow is highly redistributed due to wind and blowing snow—deep drifts form on leeward slopes and in sheltered terrain. Seasonal, dry snow, high density in late winter (Apr-May). Frequent dust depositions. Snowmelt dominated runoff with peak flows in late May or early June and low flows in Jan-Feb.
- Accesibility: Road access by truck/ATV in summer and snowmobile in winter. Nearby accommodation available. Major airport at ~150 Km (Milan, Turin)
- Years of Data: 2008 to present
Stations & Observations
Observational Stations and Sites
|Meteorological||IT-Trf||45.8238°N||7.5609°E||2150 m||Eurpoean Larch forest|
Field Observation Campaigns and Other Measurements
|Measurement||Instrument Description||Spatial/Temporal Resolution and Coverage||Notes/Details|
|Terrestrial Laser Scanner|
senseFly eBee X; DJI Matrice 300; DJI Phantom 4 PRO, RTK and MS; Mavic Dual; Mavic 3 Pro; Matrice 210 V2 RTK; Inspire 2
|Time-lapse Photographs||phenocam||daily||IT-Tor, IT-Trf; https://phenocam.nau.edu/webcam/sites/torgnon-nd/ & https://phenocam.nau.edu/webcam/sites/torgnon-ld/|
|Snow Pits/Snow Surveys||Snow pits and snow density @IT-Tor and IT-Trf||Approximately 2-3 per snow season|
|Elevation||Digital elevation model (DEM) with 10 m resolution (2008)|
|Landcover and Soils||
Landcover and soil types available from regional cartography portal https://geoportale.regione.vda.it/
|Stream/River Network||Location of the streams; Location of the lakes—Shapefiles available upon request to PI|
|Basin Delineation/Shapefile||Boundary of Torgnon Basin—Shapefile available upon request to PI|
Observational Data Availability
Torgnon site has been a testbed for many alpine snow hydrological and ecohydrological modelling developments and applications over the past two decades.
- snow model reanalysis: https://essd.copernicus.org/articles/15/639/2023/essd-15-639-2023-discussion.html
- snow model development: https://gmd.copernicus.org/articles/15/4853/2022/
- Snow model intercomparison: https://hess.copernicus.org/articles/24/4061/2020/
- snow thermal inertia: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019GL082193
- role of dust on snowmelt: https://tc.copernicus.org/articles/13/1147/2019/
- evapotranspiration: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2019WR026058
Contact & Further Information
- Marta Galvagno, Environmental Protection Agency of Aosta Valley, ARPA VdA, Climate Change Unit, Aosta, Italy, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Palo Pogliotti, (email@example.com)
- Umberto Morra di Cella, Environmental Protection Agency of Aosta Valley, ARPA VdA, Climate Change Unit, Aosta, Italy, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Francesco Avanzi, CIMA Research Foundation, Via Armando Magliotto 2, 17100 Savona, Italy (email@example.com)
- Edoardo Cremonese, Environmental Protection Agency of Aosta Valley, ARPA VdA, Climate Change Unit, Aosta, Italy, (firstname.lastname@example.org)