Community Snow Observations - How Backcountry Users can Build Better Snowpack Models

Monday, November 30, 2020
6:00 pm7:00 pm
Community Snow Observations - How Backcountry Users can Build Better Snowpack Models

If you don’t live in it, it can be easy to ignore snow. Tire chains, show shovels, down jackets…all someone else’s problems. But in the Pacific Northwest and other mountain environments, even if you don’t live in it, snow is an essential and unavoidable part of our water resources. Snowpack stores water, and slowly releases it to downstream locations in the spring time. Stream ecology, agriculture, and thirsty people all benefit. And, before it melts, let’s not forget the incredible recreational resource that snow provides to the Pacific Northwest. Understanding the distribution and evolution of our snowpack is therefore important, but can difficult for many reasons. It’s cold, the days are short, and it’s hard to get to it. This talk will discuss some of the ways in which we observe and study snow. It will introduce citizen science as a valuable way to crowd-source unique snow depth information. Wax your boards, tune your edges, and help improve what we know about the snow.

David Hill is a professor at Oregon State University and a National Geographic Explorer. For over 25 years, he has studied how water behaves from snowy mountain headwaters to coastal environments. He collaborates with other scientists interested in water’s response to climate drivers and works with stakeholders to provide information on water resources. He currently co-leads the Community Snow Observations project, a citizen science project funded by NASA to improve understanding of our physical environment. Hill has also recently been an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. No matter the hemisphere, if it is spring time, you’ll find him out on skis sampling the snow between mountain summit and trailhead.