How much water do snowpacks hold? A better way to answer the question | 1/5/2018 | Staff
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Oregon State University researchers have developed a new computer model for calculating the water content of snowpacks, providing an important tool for water resource managers and avalanche forecasters as well as scientists.

"In many places around the world, snow is a critical component of the hydrological cycle," said OSU civil engineering professor David Hill. "Directly measuring snow-water equivalent is difficult and expensive and can't be done everywhere. But information about snow depth is much easier to get, so our model, which more accurately estimates snow-water equivalent from snow depth than earlier models, is a big step forward."

Findings - Cryosphere - Snow - Depth - Project

The findings, published in The Cryosphere, are related to a NASA-funded snow depth project co-led by Hill and also involving Oregon State Ph.D. student Ryan Crumley.

The project is called Community Snow Observations and is part of NASA's Citizen Science for Earth Systems program. Snowshoers, backcountry skiers and snow-machine users are gathering data to use in computer modeling of snow-water equivalent, or SWE.

Community - Snow - Observations - Research - Team

The Community Snow Observations research team kicked off in February 2017. Led by Hill, Gabe Wolken of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Anthony Arendt of the University of Washington, the project originally focused on Alaskan snowpacks. Researchers then started recruiting citizen scientists in the Pacific Northwest. Currently, the project has more than 2,000 participants.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has spearheaded the public involvement aspect of the project, while the University of...
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