COLORADO SPRINGS >> Lt. Kyle Smith, a sailor from Dowingtown, recently participated in NASA’s ground and airborne snow mission exercise to investigate snow and water availability.
The event took place at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the project and to tour a Naval Research Laboratory P-3 Orion aircraft, operated by the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
NASA is leading a multi-year campaign called SnowEx to test a variety of sensors and techniques from ground to air, to improve measurements of the snow-water equivalent (SWE) over an array of terrain, forest, and snow environments. SnowEx began in Grand Mesa, Colorado and collected a variety of airborne and ground-based measurements. The SnowEx team includes more than 100 scientists from universities and agencies across the United States, Europe, and Canada.
More than one-sixth of the world’s population, or 1.2 billion people, rely on seasonal snow and glaciers for water. Nearly three-quarters of the water in the western United States depends on the frozen reserves. Satellites have measured snow cover area for decades, but are not able to measure snow water equivalent or SWE consistently over all snowy environments. Better and more frequent remotely sensed measurements of SWE are of significant interest to communities across the globe, in particular as it relates to the availability of fresh water, natural hazards, winter-dependent industries, and ecosystem impacts.