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 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 among the scientists leading the mission, and several of the aircraft flight paths in AK, CA, ID, UT and CO will go directly over SnowSchool sites between 2019 and 2023. 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. Between 2019 and 2023 NASA will be flying aircrafts in Alaska, 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 campaigns only happen in a few select locations every winter. SnowSchool sites can prepare for an upcoming SnowEx collaboration or a collaboration with the eventual NASA snow science satellite by working to integrate the citizen snow science resources presented below.
Become a NASA Snow Scientist! (SnowEx for 3rd-5th Grade)
Become a NASA snow scientist! (Citizen Snow Science for 9th-12th Grade)
NASA Snowpack Depth!
NASA Snow Water Equivalent! (SnowEx for 6th-12th Grade)
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.
PAST SNOWSCHOOL SNOWEX PROJECT LOCATIONS
Winter Wildlands Alliance is a national nonprofit organization working to
inspire and empower people to protect America’s wild snowscapes.