Winter means snow which means lots of thrilling snow-based activities for some. The arrival of the white stuff is also welcomed by environmental scientists because it gives them an opportunity to track its impact on ecosystem dynamics, glacier health and much more.
But they need help with their research and they're asking those who play in the snow to contribute to our understanding of it.
A NASA-funded crowdsourcing project called Community Snow Observations (CSO) is asking citizen scientists to measure snow depths in mountain regions, for the simple reason that researchers can’t get everywhere.
It's true that there is also a lot of sophisticated technology such as NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory which measures snow depth and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer sensor in the space agency’s Terra satellite. However, even with all of this, the observations can lack some information, for example, snow depth changes after a large storm.
Therefore, citizen scientists really can make an important and valuable contribution to knowledge banks. In fact, every observation and measurement will help scientists to predict snow conditions and also help with work to improve snow safety in the mountains.
To take part volunteers need a Smartphone with an app called Mountain Hub and a snow probe with graduated markings in centimeters. A simple tutorial on the CSO website explains how to use the probe to measure the depth of snow to the nearest centimeter and how to record the measurement.
For more information and to sign up to take part, visit the crowdsourcing website.