Western U.S. SnowEx

Narration: Tom Neumann


Neumann: SnowEx, of course, is an intensive airborne and ground-based campaign to characterize the seasonal snowpack all over the western U.S., in Colorado and Idaho and California and other places. These figures show ICESat-2 data over the same locations where SnowEx was studying the snowpack in detail. Now each one of those dots in the figure represents a photon that ICESat-2 measured. And for each one of those photons, we have the latitude, the longitude and the height. Now the bright line you see across the middle of the figure is composed of thousands and thousands and thousands of photons, and each of those are individual elevation measurements. By comparing measurements of the elevation of the bare ground surface during summer or fall with the snow-covered surface, we can take a difference in those elevations and figure out what the snow depth is. Scientists will be able to compare the elevations measured by ICESat-2 from these photon clouds with the intensive ground-based, airborne and other field campaigns from SnowEx to determine the extent to which ICESat-2 can add to our understanding of snow depth worldwide.

Vuyovich: Snow is a really part of our planet. It provides water, hydropower, it’s a water source for agriculture and water supply. It also is an important part of our energy feedback and helps cool the planet. So understanding how much snow is on the ground, where it’s distributed and what those characteristics are is really important.