Citizen Science Campaign Seeking Help From Backcountry Travelers to Measure Snow Depths in Remote Mountain Areas: Prizes Involved

SnowBrains | BackcountryBackcountry | BrainsBrains

Community Snow Observations (CSO) is a NASA-funded citizen science project to measure snow. The campaign is seeking help from backcountry travelers to measure snow depths in mountain places too vast to monitor. The observations will help CSO predict snow conditions and improve safety for mountain travelers.

A community of citizen scientists is powerful. They’re able to make more measurements than any one person or scientific team. Katreen Wilkstrom Jones, a spokesperson for CSO, wrote in an email to SnowBrains:

“High elevation, complex terrain are still data-sparse regions and challenging to accurately model for snow scientists. We recognize that we need more data points in these regions and there’s a prime population to help out with this task – the backcountry ski community! Backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and snow-machiners travel into remote, high elevation terrain and they also already carry an excellent measuring tool – their avalanche probe. It turns out that there is huge interest in citizen science and people are eager to ‘give back’ to help enhance snow science research so that we can better understand seasonal snow depth distribution and make better predictions of how much water is stored in our mountain snowpacks.”

Courtesy CSO

By getting involved with this campaign, you’d be giving back to the backcountry community. You’d be helping make more accurate snow and weather models which would better predict snow condtions and improve avalanche mitigation. Plus, it’s super easy to get involved. Here’s how to start:

“It’s super simple to participate in CSO – the measurement & submission process takes < 1 min and can be easily done while taking a sip of water on the skin track. Participants submit their (geo-tagged) snow depth measurements in MountainHub (it works outside of cellphone coverage!), a crowd-sourced outdoor data sharing app that can be downloaded to Android/iPhone as well as be accessed as an online application. We ask our participants to measure full snowpack depth in undisturbed snow, submit the average value of three measurements (within ~1 m radius), and also submit a photo of the measurement site.” – Katreen Wilkstrom Jones, spokesperson for CSO

Step-by-step and video tutorials on how to submit a proper snow depth measurement and how to navigate MountainHub can be found here:

Courtesy CSO


CSO will be running a data collection contest until April 15, 2021 with prizes donated from TruWild and Mizu Life. See the attached contest flyer below!

Courtesy CSO

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...