Melissa Estep

Melissa is an hydrologist and water resource engineer working on long-term water supply planning under climate change. She lives in Golden, Colorado, where she enjoys getting out into nature and connecting to the land and water — bonus if the activity includes a lot of vertical gain! It is important to Melissa to get outside and completely disconnect from the hectic nature of society every now and then, be stewards for the places we recreate in, and always have an open mind. Her experience in snow science comes from taking snow science courses at CU Boulder, including spending a week investigating novel snow measurement techniques up at the Storm Peak Laboratory in Steamboat, CO. During grad school she spent Fridays up on Niwot Ridge digging snow pits with undergraduates. She worked in the INSTAAR stable isotope lab prior to grad school, and attended a multi-day course with CSAS in Silverton while working for DOI.

Melissa sounds pretty excited “I can’t wait to get out into the snow this year and spend as much time as possible skiing and climbing. I am an avid ski mountaineer and ice climber in the winter, and do all of the Colorado activities the rest of the year. But I have been especially excited to get more into packrafting the past few years because it has connected me to the rivers and creeks and ultimately the impact of snowpack and snowmelt in our mountains.”

What is community science? Why join CSO?

[Community science] means “that anyone can contribute to moving science forward”, says Melissa. She adds “We all have an opportunity to use our specific knowledge and experience to progress science, and the strength of an entire community can move the needle more than a few individuals.” For personal benefits, Melissa says it’s exciting to be able to help improve the data available for snowpack mapping while getting out and having fun. Plus, Melissa says “measuring snow for CSO can teach you about the state of the snowpack and its evolution throughout the winter.” If that wasn’t enough, Melissa also mentions how it all comes back to you as more available data will lead to improved water supply management.

Check out Melissa on Instagram @Trailfoxed