Researchers on the NASA-funded Community Snow Observations (CSO) project recently found a new way to use data from citizen scientists. This project asks volunteer to measure the depth of the snow in mountain environments and uses the data to improve snowpack models.
Measuring snow depth is about as easy as it gets; any old meter stick will do the job. But water resource planners often need to know how much water is in the snow as well, since the density of snow can cover a large range--as any snowball-thrower or snowman builder knows! The CSO science team found a new way to effectively convert your snow depth measurements into their snow water equivalents using climatological parameters. The new model is freely available as a Matlab script and a Python script and comes with the climatological data you’ll need for North America.
Next time you see some snow, measure its depth and tell CSO about it. Then, you can use the new tools above to figure out how much water is in your snow. Whether it is ‘blower pow’ or ‘Sierra cement,’ it’s a crucial resource, and we need your help tracking it.