White Water: NASA Probes Snow's Effect on Water Resources | weebsly

As we all know that water is the most precious resource on this earth; all life on the planet depends on water only to to survive. However, only a fraction of Earth’s water, a mere 3 percent, is freshwater, and about 70 percent of that freshwater is inaccessible, locked up in glaciers, ice and permanent snow cover.

In fact, both seasonal and year-round snow pack are vital parts of Earth’s water cycle and its freshwater reserves. Recognizing this, NASA recently launched a new initiative to investigate the planet’s snow and the relationship of this snow to readily available liquid water.Snow plays an important role in Earth’s water cycle, and NASA has launched a new initiative to investigate snow and its relationship to readily available liquid water

Grand Mesa and Senator Beck Basin in Colorado, two sites where scientists with NASA’s SnowEx are analyzing snow to unravel its unique role as a global water resource. This is the most comprehensive campaign we have ever done on snow. 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 is contained in that snow. SnowEx is sponsored by the Terrestrial Hydrology Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The first year of the ground and air campaign takes place in February in western Colorado.Scientists hope to improve their understanding of how fluctuations in snow accumulation affect water accessibility worldwide — for agriculture, power and drinking, NASA said.
Satellites have monitored seasonal snow cover from space for decades, but they can’t accurately measure the amount of water trapped in snow across different types of snow-covered landscapes. Accurately measuring forest areas is particularly challenging, and prior evaluations are thought to have underestimated water storage in snow by as much as 50 percent, agency officials said.To overcome this situation five aircraft with a total of 10 different sensors are part of the SnowEx campaign. From an operations base at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, SnowEx will deploy a P-3 Orion aircraft operated by the Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), stationed at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. High-altitude NASA jets will fly from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, California. A King Air and a Twin Otter will fly out of Grand Junction, Colorado.Also SnowEx will gather its data with multiple sensors, incorporating emerging technologies — such as those that use altitude and gravity sensing — with more established methods like spectroscopy, radar and radio sensing.

Teams of 50 researchers are making ground measurements, rotating in and out of the field every week over a three-week period.

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 at no cost, as is the case with all NASA data. Data collected during fieldwork will serve to verify the findings of remote-sensing aircraft, and the results will help to determine SnowEx goals in the coming years.Said by NASA officials