New Hampshire, USA
My name is Elizabeth (Liz) Burakowski and I live in New Hampshire, USA.
For a living, I am a Research Assistant Professor in the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire. I am passionate about understanding and acting to address climate change. As a climate scientist, I run climate models, analyze satellite images, and measure snow to understand how northeastern United States winters have changed in the past, what we can expect in the future, and the impacts on our ecosystems and society. As a skier and rider for the past 30 years, I have seen the effects of warming winters on our mountains, and I know my fellow winter recreation enthusiasts have experienced the changes, too. Keeping a conversation going is key to building trust, identifying solutions, and advocating for local to national policies that address climate change in our communities.
I think it is important to…
remember that we are all in the climate change conundrum together. Each of us will experience the impacts of climate change in our own ways. In seasonally snow-covered lands, a shorter snow season is a visible and hard to ignore change in the landscape.
Every day I try to remind myself…
that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step [Laozi]. It has taken many cumulative steps to get Earth’s climate system to the state of imbalance it is in today. It will take many more steps to restore Earth’s climate system to equilibrium. Measuring snow in the northeast is one of many small steps that we can take to improve our understanding of how winter is changing today and how it might change in the future.
Why did you join the Community Snow Observations program?
I have been skiing, riding, and sliding on snow for 30 years and studying snow as a scientist for over a decade. I am passionate about communicating climate science and joining the Community Snow Observations connects me with other skiers, riders, and sliders who want to learn about our changing snow and contribute to science.
What does the term Citizen Science mean to you?
Citizen Science is an opportunity for anyone to participate in the scientific process. I am a snow scientist, and I am also a citizen scientist for projects that track phenology (ie: when trees green up), birds, and biodiversity. Citizen Science is also a great way to engage in environmental stewardship through observation of your environment.
What is your experience/background in snow science?
I am a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire, USA. I use satellites, climate models, and ground-based observations to understand how Northeastern US winters have changed in the past and what we can expect for the future. Our region lacks the robust network of automated snow measurements that the Western US has (known as SNOTEL) and most of our ground-based observers collect data near airports and at lower elevations. CSO offers the opportunity to greatly expand the number of snow depth measurements in remote, high elevation locations.
Why should more people join Community Snow Observations this winter?
As a scientist, CSO measurements could help me improve the models I use to project winter climate and snow into the future. Additionally, as a member of the Protect Our Winters Science Alliance, I believe that participation of outdoor enthusiasts in the scientific process empowers them to more deeply connect them to their environment and to contribute to a better understanding of how climate is changing in their winter community.