SnowSchool has long been a bridge for students to connect snow science and winter recreation. This year, thanks to a partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) SnowEx program, we’re excited to add a citizen science element that will give our students a role in helping scientists do the important work of measuring and monitoring the snowpack.
The 2019-20 NASA SnowEx mission aims to further advance new technology to remotely detect snow density (water content) from aircraft and, ultimately, an orbiting satellite. WWA ambassador and Boise State University snow scientist Hans-Peter Marshall is leading the mission, and several of the aircraft flight paths in CA, ID, UT and CO will go directly over SnowSchool sites. NASA scientists need students to collect snow density samples on the ground and, with help from our partners at Community Snow Observations, send to researchers to compare to the data collect from aircraft. This is an exciting an opportunity for SnowSchool students! Read more.
The goal, ultimately, is to launch a satellite that will measure the amount of snow on our planet at any given time. To get there, SnowEx has a few different puzzle pieces to work with. This winter, NASA will be flying aircrafts in Colorado, California, and Idaho to test out different types of technical instruments. One can take three-dimensional photographs of the topography, which can be applied with a before-and-after method to see measure snow depth. Another instrument uses LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, which uses a laser to scan the surface of the earth. As scientists conduct tests with instruments like those, NASA needs people on the ground—citizen scientists—to collect real data from the snowpack that can be used to verify the SnowEx results. Those citizen scientists are SnowSchool students.
How SnowSchool Sites can Participate
Its easy! Watch this short tutorial to learn how to participate in SnowEx or Community Snow Observations!
SnowEx Flight Paths in ID, CA & UT
SnowEx Flight Paths in CO
Light blue and orange outlined areas indicate NASA SnowEx flight paths. Orange indicates highest priority areas. Blue icons indicate relevant SnowSchool site locations.
GLOBAL SNOWPACK DATA
As the NASA planes fly overhead, our students will be on snowshoes, taking samples of snow to measure SWE and uploading their information to a snowpack database hosted by our partners at Community Snow Observations (CSO). CSO is a global project intended to increase snowpack data, and anyone can contribute data.
SNOWSCHOOL SNOWEX PROJECT LOCATIONS (click to add data)
Winter Wildlands Alliance is a national nonprofit organization promoting and
preserving winter wildlands and a quality human-powered snowsports
experience on public lands.