Ben Roberts-Pierel

Ben is a remote sensing and snow scientist with a focus on snow and ice-covered landscapes and high latitude remote sensing He is based in Portland, Oregon, and currently works on the next generation of the NASA/USGS Landsat program. There’s a good reason why Ben works as a snow scientist – he loves snow! “First and foremost, I am always excited to be outside. I am (and always have been) really passionate about snow. I grew up in Maine where I spent most of my time outside through the winter and that is a thread that has carried on to the present day. It took until college but I have also developed a wide ranging passion for mountains, mountain environments and am now very much at home in the snowy mountainous landscapes of the US Pacific Northwest.” But, being outside doesn’t have to mean climbing high peaks in the wildest of mountain ranges, says Ben. He thinks it’s important to “spend time outside as often as possible and to appreciate the outdoor spaces we have access to whether that’s a tiny corner park in the city or the wildest, deepest mountain range you can imagine.”

Besides taking avalanche courses and spending extensive time in the mountains skiing, Ben built on his experience in snow science by achieving a PhD in Geography at Oregon State University where he focused on snow cover and glacier cover change in the Western US and Alaska. During the PhD program he participated in classroom and field courses on snow hydrology and remote sensing of snow as well as conducted extensive research on the topic. Ben was a participant in the NASA SnowEx Albedo campaign in Fairbanks, Alaska, in April 2023.

Fun fact: Ben is really into woodworking and building furniture.

A not-so-unexpected fact: Ben would be totally happy with nine months of winter and one month allocated to each of the other seasons.

What is community science? Why join CSO?

To Ben, [community science] provides opportunities for people to engage with complex topics, like climate change, in small and digestible pieces with a focus on one’s immediate environment. Ben has been following the CSO project for a while: “I joined CSO because I have seen really interesting, important scientific research conducted by members of the CSO Science team, and because I do think its a really positive way of getting people engaged in the scientific process. I think a lot of us who recreate in the outdoors are curious about the natural world and contributing to CSO is a really cool way to participate in the gathering of knowledge while also enjoying a fun day in the snow!”


Follow Ben on Instagram @brobertsp