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CREST Fellow studies water content in Colorado snowpack

Posted on March 15, 2017

CREST Fellow studies water content in Colorado snowpack

CREST Fellow Carlos Luis Pérez Díaz was among researchers who participated in the NASA SnowEx campaign, in Grand Mesa, Colorado February 1-28, 2017. SnowEx is a multi-year airborne snow campaign that addresses the overarching question: How much water is stored in Earth’s terrestrial snow-covered regions? The campaign investigates the distribution of snow water equivalent (SWE) and the snow energy balance for different canopy types, densities, and terrains. The SnowEx campaign uses a unique combination of sensors (such as LiDAR, active and passive microwave, imaging spectrometers, and infrared) to determine the sensitivity and accuracy of different remote sensing techniques for SWE measurements.

Additionally, ground-based instruments, snow field measurements, and modeling were performed to validate the airborne efforts and help address snow science questions. Carlos was specifically involved with the snow field measurement teams that executed snow pits and depth transects. Snow pits were conducted to study the snowpack properties (such as density, grain size, temperature, stratigraphy, and wetness) at different snowpack layers. Transverse cuts were made at various depths to define the snow depth profile in different terrains throughout Grand Mesa, Colorado. The SnowEx research community wants to fully understand the challenges presented by forests to remote snow-covered land measurements (e.g. LiDAR, passive microwave radiometry) by collecting a unique dataset that will help address snow science questions and enable snow mission design trade studies.

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