From the beginning, Community Snow Observations (CSO) was focused on collaboration and on the idea that scientists, snow professionals, and snow enthusiasts could work together to improve our knowledge of snow distribution and changes in snow. Thousands of you have jointly submitted over 15,000 snow depth measurements toward this goal and our analysis has shown that your contributions clearly improve our snowpack model estimates. 

How much snow is out there today? (Photo credit: Aidan Goldie, CSO Ambassador)

An equal goal of this project has been to return to participants, and to the general public, informative and interactive products on the where, when, and how-much of snow.

We are very excited to say that we have recently reached this goal and we are happy to release to the public!

How does work?

Each day, we acquire the latest weather information, and the latest snow observations from Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) stations and from CSO observers. After a quick ‘quality control’ check of the observations, we run our snowpack model first without, and then with these observations. The second run is an ‘assimilative’ run and includes your observations, which help to correct any model deficiencies. We then deliver all of the model output to a Google Earth Engine app that allows anyone to explore the snow for that day. 

modeled snow depth graphic data tool showing CSO modeled snow depth in Utah on October 19, 2021.

The page has several useful tabs at upper right corner that will get you oriented (including a helpful tutorial). You can explore snow depth, snow water equivalent, 3-day changes in snow and the specific changes to the snow estimates that come from your participation.

So, if you have ever wondered if community science observations actually get used, we can assure you that they do. 

We presently have nine modeling domains running, all selected based upon where we’ve had good community participation. We will continue to add new domains in regions where we see activity this coming snow season. So, to get your community ‘on the map’ (literally), get some friends, get out in the snow, and tell CSO about it.

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