SnowEx Field Campaign 2017

NASA uses the vantage point of space to study all aspects of the Earth as an interconnected system. But there remain significant obstacles to measuring accurately how much water is stored across the planet's snow-covered regions. The amount of water in snow plays a major role in water availability for drinking water, agriculture and hydropower.

Enter SnowEx, a NASA led multi-year research campaign to improve remote-sensing measurements of how much snow is on the ground at any given time and how much water that will turn into when that snow melts. SnowEx is sponsored by the Terrestrial Hydrology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and managed by Goddard Space Flight Center. The first year of the ground and air campaign takes place in February 2017 in the Colorado mountains.

For more information: nasa.gov/earthexpeditions

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  • SnowEx Field Campaign: 4K B-roll From The P-3 Orion Aircraft
    2017.02.22
    SnowEx is a NASA led multi-year research campaign to improve measurements of how much snow is on the ground at any given time and how much liquid water is contained in that snow.

    Five aircraft with a total of ten different sensors will participate in the SnowEx campaign. From a base of operations at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, SnowEx will deploy a P-3 Orion aircraft operated by the Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. A King Air plane will fly out of Grand Junction, Colorado, while high-altitude NASA jets will fly from Johnson Space Center in Houston.

    The planes will carry passive and active microwave sensors that are good at measuring snow-water equivalent in dry snow, but are less optimal for measuring snow forests or light snow cover. The campaign will also deploy an airborne laser instrument to measure snow depth, and airborne sensors to measure surface temperature and reflected light from snow.

    Data acquired from the SnowEx campaign will be stored at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and will be available to anyone to order at no cost, as is the case with all NASA data.

    For more information: https://www.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions

  • SnowEx Field Campaign: B-roll From The P-3 Orion Aircraft
    2017.02.14
    SnowEx is a NASA led multi-year research campaign to improve measurements of how much snow is on the ground at any given time and how much liquid water is contained in that snow. Five aircraft with a total of ten different sensors will participate in the SnowEx campaign. From a base of operations at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, SnowEx will deploy a P-3 Orion aircraft operated by the Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. A King Air plane will fly out of Grand Junction, Colorado, while high-altitude NASA jets will fly from Johnson Space Center in Houston.

    The planes will carry passive and active microwave sensors that are good at measuring snow-water equivalent in dry snow, but are less optimal for measuring snow forests or light snow cover. The campaign will also deploy an airborne laser instrument to measure snow depth, and airborne sensors to measure surface temperature and reflected light from snow. Data acquired from the SnowEx campaign will be stored at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and will be available to anyone to order at no cost, as is the case with all NASA data. For more information: https://www.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions

  • SnowEx Field Campaign: B-roll From Ground Mesa
    2017.02.13
    SnowEx is a NASA led multi-year research campaign to improve measurements of how much snow is on the ground at any given time and how much liquid water is contained in that snow.

    Starting in February, teams of 50 researchers are stationed at Ground Mesa and Senator Beck Basin over a three-week period to measure snow using a variety of snow-sensing instruments and techniques.

    Ground measurements will allow the team to validate the remotely-sensed measurements acquired by the multiple sensors on the various aircraft.

    Data acquired from the SnowEx campaign will be stored at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and will be available to anyone to order at no cost, as is the case with all NASA data.

    For more information: https://www.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions/

Snow Data Visualizations

  • Seasonal sea ice and snow cover visualizations
    2017.01.04
    Seasonal snow cover and sea ice across the globe from September 2010 to August 2011
  • Blue Marble Next Generation
    2017.04.03
    Blue Marble: Next Generation is a years worth of monthly composites at a spatial resolution of 500 meters. These monthly images reveal seasonal changes to the land surface: the green-up and dying-back of vegetation in temperate regions such as North America and Europe, dry and wet seasons in the tropics, and advancing and retreating Northern Hemisphere snow cover. The data are from 2004, from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite. For more information, visit the Blue Marble on the Earth Observatory.

Related Features

  • NASA Investigates Water Supply in Snow
    2017.02.16
    This February, a NASA-led research campaign called SnowEx kicked off in Colorado. The 5-year study will advance global measurements of how much snow is on the ground at any given time and how much liquid water is contained in that snow. The amount of water in snow plays a huge role in water availability for drinking water, agriculture, and hydropower.

    Teams of 50 researchers are stationed at Grand Mesa and Senator Beck Basin over a three-week period to measure snow using a variety of snow-sensing instruments and techniques. Ground measurements will allow the team to validate the remotely sensed measurements acquired by multiple sensors on the various aircraft.

    Data acquired from the SnowEx campaign will be stored at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and will be available to anyone to order at no cost, as is the case with all NASA data.

    For more information: https://www.nasa.gov/earthexpeditions/

  • How a NASA Science Flight is No Ordinary Journey
    2017.03.24
    A group of scientists and pilots conducted a series of science flights over Western Colorado for a new five-year NASA-led airborne mission called SnowEx.

    SnowEx is exploring better ways to measuring how much water is stored in snow-covered regions with the goal of eventually creating a future snow satellite mission. More accurate snow measurements will help scientists and decisions-makers better understand our world’s water supply and better predict floods and droughts.

    Data acquired from the SnowEx campaign will be stored at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, and will be available to anyone to order at no cost, as is the case with all NASA data.

    For more information:

    NASA's SnowEx Challenges the Sensing Techniques...'Until They Break'

    NASA: Snow Science in Support of Our Nation's Water Supply

  • GPM Gets Flake-y
    2017.02.17
    The Global Precipitation Measurement can help improve numerical weather predictions of snowfall by measuring the size and shape distribution of snow particles, layer by layer, in a storm.
  • Snow Live Shots (Feb. 17, 2017)
    2017.02.08
    NASA Views Snow from Space: What a Difference a Year Makes Snow doesn’t fall everywhere, but how much falls and where has global consequences
    The snapshot of snow from space tells a different story every year. Last January, a winter storm pummeled the east coast and broke several snowfall records. This winter the Sierra Nevada was hit by consecutive storms, each one piling more snow on top of the last storm's snow. NASA’s view from space highlights these dramatic differences, but the story is incomplete.
    More than a sixth of the world’s population relies on melt water from seasonal snowpack and glaciers, but it is challenging to measure the volume and depth of snow cover, especially in remote locations and dense forests. Determining exactly how much snow is on the ground globally and understanding the contribution of winter storms to the world’s water resources are key pieces to the Earth system puzzle.
    NASA is in the field right now, testing techniques and technologies for measuring snow’s water content. Join NASA scientists on Friday, February 17, from 6:00 a.m – 11:30 a.m. EST to show your viewers NASA’s snow imagery and discuss strides towards improved space-based measurement of snow on Earth.

    The effects of snow are global. For example, California’s Central Valley, which relies on seasonal snow melt, constitutes only 2 percent of US cropland, yet it produces nearly half the nation’s fruits and nuts. The benefits of snow measurements are huge because of the importance of snow to agriculture, water security, natural hazards and more.
    Thanks to a half-century of snow observations, we know these amazing facts, which are crucial to understanding what’s necessary to advance snow measurements.
    • More than one-sixth of the world’s population (1.2 billion people) relies on melt water from snowpack and glaciers.
    • Up to 70 percent of water resources in the western United States are from snow melt. In California, more than 70 percent of water from the San Joaquin River, which originates from Sierra Nevada snow, is used to irrigate the Central Valley.
    • 60 million people in the U.S. rely on snowmelt as their primary source of freshwater.
    • Globally, 30 percent of land area gets covered by snow and about half of the snow cover area has tree cover of some sort.
    • Since 1967, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere, an area the size of the entire southwestern United States.
    • NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Mission (GPM) tracks falling snow, including off the coast where few observations exist, in the mountains where ground-based radar may have challenges, and even at the tops of hurricanes.
    • Snowflakes (crystals) have six sides, but most of the snowflakes we see are multiple crystals stuck together. Snow crystals stick together and begin to change or metamorphose as soon as they fall to the ground.
    • The same sensing technology used to measure seasonal snowpack on Earth can be used to measure ice on Mars.

    *** To Book a Window *** Contact Clare Skelly – clare.a.skelly@nasa.gov / 301-286-4994 (office)

    HD Satellite Coordinates for G17-K18Upper: Galaxy 17 Ku-band Xp 18 Slot Upper| 91.0 ° W Longitude | DL 12069.0 MHz | Vertical Polarity | QPSK/DVB-S | FEC 3/4 | SR 13.235 Mbps | DR 18.2954 MHz | HD 720p | Format MPEG2 | Chroma Level 4:2:0 | Audio Embedded


    Suggested Questions:
    1. NASA satellites see snow cover from space. How does this winter compare to previous years?
    2. NASA scientists are in the field right now testing advanced technologies for measuring snow. How will these new measurements be used?
    3. Can NASA actually see falling snow from space? 4. Up to 70 percent of water resources in the western United States come from snow melt. California has been getting heavy rain and snow recently, does that mean the drought is over?
    5. How does snow impact parts of the country that rarely see any snowfall?
    6. Where can we learn more?
    Scientists:
    Dorothy Hall / NASA Scientist
    —or—
    Matthew Rodell / NASA Scientist
    —or—
    Dalia Kirschbaum / NASA Scientist

Previous Field Campaigns

  • Researchers Gear Up For OLYMPEX
    2015.11.10
    From November 10 through December 21, NASA and university scientists are taking to the field to study wet winter weather near Seattle, Washington. With weather radars, weather balloons, specialized ground instruments, and NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory, the science team will be verifying rain and snowfall observations made by the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite mission on a NASA-led field campaign, The Olympic Mountain Experiment, or OLYMPEX. For more information: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-heads-to-pacific-northwest-for-field-campaign-to-measure-rain-and-snowfall
  • NASA Wraps Up Cold Season Campaign for GPM
    2012.03.17
    For six weeks in Ontario, Canada, scientists and engineers lead a field campaign to study the science and mechanics of falling snow. The datasets retrieved will be used to generate algorithms which translate what the GPM Core satellite "sees" into precipitation rates, including that of falling snow. Ground validation science manager Walt Petersen gives a summary of the GCPEx field campaign. Field campaigns are critical in improving satellite observations and precipitation measurements.
  • NASA's DC-8 Airborne Science Laboratory Flight Path Jan 19, 2012
    2012.01.31
    NASA is flying an airborne science laboratory through Canadian snowstorms for six weeks in support of a difficult task of the upcoming Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission: measuring snowfall from space. GPM is an international satellite mission scheduled for launch in 2014 that will provide next-generation observations of worldwide rain and snow every three hours. It is the first precipitation mission designed to detect falling snow from space. NASA's DC-8 flying laboratory flew this flight path on Jan 19, 2012 in support of NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement Cold-season Precipitation Experiment (GCPEx) snow study. The GCPEx field campaign will help scientists match measurements of snow in the air and on the ground.
  • NASA Airborne Cold Weather Experiment Measures Falling Snow
    2012.01.10
    NASA is flying an airborne science laboratory through Canadian snowstorms for six weeks in support of a difficult task of the upcoming Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission: measuring snowfall from space. GPM is an international satellite mission scheduled for launch in 2014 that will provide next-generation observations of worldwide rain and snow every three hours. It is the first precipitation mission designed to detect falling snow from space.