Gus Goodbody and John Fitzgerald are standing in a snow pit checking snow density high within Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The snow depth is about 2.2 meters.
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Courtesy of CLPX NASA Land Surface Hydrology Program

Super Scientists Study Snow!
News story originally written on February 21, 2003

Snow is fun! It can be made into snowballs or snow angels and can even cause school to be cancelled. Many scientists think that snow is pretty interesting too. This week, scientists and college students began a project to take a look at the snow in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains from many different points of view - from the ground, from the air, and even from space!

This project includes many scientists and students from federal agencies, like NASA and NOAA, and many universities. They hope that their project will help us better understand areas on Earth where water is frozen during the cold winter months, or all year long. This may help to improve water supply forecasts for communities, which depend on river water, most of which comes from melting mountain snow. It may also allow scientists to better predict dangerous snowmelt floods that happen in the spring as the snow melts. The research project will also study how snow cover affects other parts of the Earth’s weather and climate.

During this project, scientists will try to figure out the best way to study snow from above. Four aircraft and NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites will gather snow data from Colorado’s Rocky Mountains by sensing what’s below. Scientists will compare data collected from the ground with data collected from the sky to understand whether the satellite data is accurate. Hopefully, their research will help design better sensors so that someday we can, from space, measure the amount of snow and frozen ground around the world!

Last modified February 24, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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