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SnowEx

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SnowEx

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview and significance of the campaign and SnowEx.

Context: NASA has launched a seasonal campaign — part of a five-year programme called SnowEx, initiated in 2016-17.

What is SnowEx? 

It is a five year program initiated and funded by NASA.

Objective: To address the most important gaps in snow remote sensing knowledge and thus lay the groundwork for a future snow satellite mission.

It focuses on airborne campaigns and field work, and on comparing the various sensing technologies, from the mature to the more experimental, in globally-representative types of snow.

The mission will utilize a suite of airborne instruments such as Lidar, SAR, Passive Microwave, Multi-spectral/hyperspectral VIS/IR, and others, as well as ground measurements, to study Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) in forested areas.

Objectives:

  • develop/test algorithms for measurement of SWE in forested and non-forested areas by providing multi-sensor observations of seasonally snow-covered landscapes.
  • develop/test energy balance models and snow distribution models of beneath-canopy snowpack using appropriate field measurements.
  • explore how best to combine sensing technologies with modeling and data assimilation methods to produce the most accurate products.

What are the SnowEx outcomes and International Engagement?

SnowEx will provide key insights into optimal strategies for mapping global SWE with remote sensing and models, which will enable a competitive proposal for a Decadal Survey “Earth System Explorer” mission.

The systematic assessment of methods for mapping water and energy components of seasonal snow in SnowEx is fully aligned with the objectives of the NASA Terrestrial Hydrology Program and the Earth Science Division as well as the ESDS.

Why have this campaign?

  • More than one-sixth of the world’s population (~1.2 billion people) relies on seasonal snowpack and glaciers for their water supply.
  • Snowmelt-generated water supply is likely to decrease this century. Snow is also a critical component of Earth’s cold regions ecosystems where wildlife, vegetation and snow have strongly interconnected fates.
  • Besides, to understand the time and space variation in the snow’s energy and mass balances along with the extensive feedbacks with the Earth’s climate, water cycle, and carbon cycle, it is critical to accurately measure snowpack.

Sources: Indian Express.