X-SNOW: Eastern Snow Observatory

Help Marco unlock the secrets of snow.  We have raised $3,225 toward our $30,000 goal.  Make your gift today!  

X-SNOW: Eastern Snow Observatory

We know climate change is affecting temperatures around the world. But did you know that scientists look to snowflakes and snow on the ground to help understand the best ways to manage the water supply and ecology of our region?

You can help them broaden their study of our snowfall.

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and WNYC are launching a citizen science investigation of snow. Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco is leading a project to scout out locations best suited from monitoring snow and to collect as much data as possible on the snow of our regions. He needs your help!

Residents throughout the state of New York can contribute to cutting-edge scientific investigation by documenting snow in their local areas. By combining observations from scientists and the public, a collective knowledge of what is happening can lead to better ways of understanding what is happening, adapting to change and predicting the impact of climate change on the snow in our region.


What Your Support Will Do: You can help in two ways:

  1. Collect data and send it to us through the tools and methods that scientists are showing on the website
  2. Donate to cover the cost for collecting as much scientific data as possible for the Columbia team. Donations will also support the critically important analysis of all of the snow data collects.

Share Our Mission: 

New York City, the largest city in the United States by population, receives its drinking water from a network of reservoirs in upstate New York including the Croton Watershed (9% of the water supply), and the Catskills/Delaware watershed (91% of the water supply).  Roughly 580 billion gallons of water are stored in the system, which comprises of 19 reservoirs and three lakes.   The water supply is of high quality and requires minimal treatment, and reaches the city mainly by gravity (only ~5% of it must be pumped).

Snow cover plays an important role in the New York City water supply system by storing precipitation and releasing it into the water supply as it melts.   To understand the amount of water potentially available in the water supply system, we need to be able to estimate the total amount of water stored in reservoirs as well as in snow cover.  Modeling snow cover and how it changes in response to predicted weather and climate changes will help us to understand short and long term changes in reservoir storage capabilities.

Our ability to estimate water storage and changes is limited by the number of local measurements of snow cover and snow properties.  Using satellites, certain properties of snow cover, such as the amount of snow, the extent of snow, and the percentage of sunlight the snow reflects can be estimated.    Models can provide additional estimates of snowpack structure and predictions about how the snowpack will evolve over time.   But both models and satellite-derived estimates require ground measurements for evaluation and improvement. 

The X-Snow project aims to extend the quantity of available snow measurements by involving the broader public in a crowd-sourced snow measurement effort.   An initial measurement campaign is planned for February 2018 to make preliminary measurements and test devices and techniques that are fun, simple, accurate, reliable, and easy to use.  

To learn more about the project, receive updates, and become involved in the citizen science investigation, visit the project website.

To learn more about the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, our research and scientists, visit our website.

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