Measuring Snowpack for an Increasingly "Thirsty World"

May 21, 2013

NASA scientists are flying over mountains in Colorado and California. They're using high-tech gadgets to measure snowpack.
NASA scientists are flying over mountains in Colorado and California. They're using high-tech gadgets to measure snowpack.
Credit NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A group of scientists are flying over mountains in California and Colorado this spring, measuring snowpack with high-tech gadgets. NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory mission started last month over the Sierra Nevadas and Southwestern Colorado’s Uncompahgre River Basin. The idea is to measure the snow in a way that’s never been done before, to get an idea of how much water is stored there. Snowpack accounts for 75 % of the Western United States’ freshwater supply. And, as demands for water grow, scientists are working on solutions. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with Doctor Tom Painter, the mission’s principal investigator.