Archive for the ‘snow’ tag

Seven citizen science projects to do in the snow!

By January 5th, 2018 at 7:28 am | Comment

Will Cavalier measures snowfall in Philadelphia to help cryosphere researchers calibrate instruments on weather satellites.

Did you know that forecasters rely on YOU to help accurately predict snow storms, floods, droughts and extreme weather conditions? The National Weather Service, for example, depends on people just like you to report local rain and snow precipitation measurements to a citizen science project known asCoCoRaHS: Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network. Learn more about this long-running, popular project and, when you’re ready to jump in, set up your rain gauge before the next rain or snow storm to collect rain, record measurements, and share data! CoCoRaHS shares the data with scientists, planners, and, yes, the National Weather Service. CoCoRaHS is also a SciStarter Affiliate which means you can earn credit for participation in your SciStarter dashboard. OOOOOOH! (SciStarter is a global community of citizen scientists with operations anchored in Philly!)

This is one is cool. Simply by Tweeting the precise snow accumulation data where you are, you can help cryosphere researchers calibrate the accuracy of instruments on-board weather satellites orbiting overhead! Those instruments are great at taking pictures and analyzing wide sections of land but they cannot tell the difference between, say, a snow bank and a huge accumulation of naturally falling snow. But you can! Get your ruler, put your warm winter gear on, and head outside to do SnowTweets! Tag @SciStarter and #SnowDay if you decide to do this one and we’ll give you a shout out!

Here are more projects on SciStarter that you can do in the snow!

It’s Time for Winter Solstice and Lights!

By December 24th, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Comment



By United States Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strang - This Image was released by the United States Air Force with the ID 050118-F-3488S-003 Auroroa Borealis over
USAF SrA Joshua Stran

We are finally at the tipping point, the daylight is getting a little longer with each waning night. We have a chance to look upwards and savor the night sky and tell scientists what we can see of it. For more ideas, be sure to check out the 12 Days of Christmas with Citizen Science!

Take a step outside to join others around the world with these citizen science projects!

The SciStarter Team

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Citizen Science: the Animated Movie

By October 12th, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Comment


There should be more animated movies about citizen science, don’t you think? Thankfully, the people at a weather-focused citizen science project called the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (known by the funny acronym CoCoRaHS) have made this video! It tells the story of how the project started and explains how people all over the country are getting involved. Watch and find out how you can become a CoCoRaHS volunteer too!

Modern snow-mapping models vs. The People

By May 29th, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Comment

This past winter, we invited you to participate in SnowTweets and simply “measure your snow to help the planet.”

Richard_KellyRaySnowTweets is a citizen science project run by cryosphere researchers Richard Kelly (pictured far left) and Raymond Cabrera at the University of Waterloo (Canada), who sent us the following report to share with you! They’d love to hear back from you, so please feel free to post your reactions in the comments field, below.

Crowdsourcing for Weather and Climate Science: The Snowtweets Project
By Richard Kelly and Raymond Cabrera Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change, and Department of Geography and Environmental Management University of Waterloo
May 2011
Where in the world is the water?

Roughly 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, most of which is contained in oceans, ice sheets, glaciers, lakes and rivers. Much of it is stored as seasonal snow; as much as 50% of the northern hemisphere’s land surface is covered during the year. (By springtime, the winter snow accumulation melts and finds its way into rivers that fill reservoirs or replenish the lakes and oceans.)

An accurate system for monitoring seasonal snow accumulation is important for several reasons, not the least is of which is to help policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our planet.

At the University of Waterloo, we cryosphere researchers have been studying the accuracy of global and regional snow cover extent and snow accumulation estimates which are based on observations from sensors such as NASA’s MODIS–or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer–a key instrument aboard the Terra (EOS AM) and Aqua (EOS PM) satellites, and sophisticated models.  We also know that certain things can interfere with their estimation accuracy:

• Clouds, for example, can obscure snow from being observed by visible and infrared instruments aboard satellites.
• When publishing daily snow depth model estimates, both the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) combine environmental variables known to control snow depth variation.
• And, while these models are available for global or national regions on a daily basis, the data are averaged over large areas typically from 1 km up to 25km wide.

To help us gather as much on-the-ground data as possible, we turned to citizen scientists and asked them (you) to monitor snow cover and snow depth by simply telling us how much snow had accumulated around them, and simply report it as depth.

Citizen scientists from around the world participated in this endeavor, which we dubbed Snowtweets because we accepted data both by using Twitter and a standard webform on

Snowtweets provided us with pinpoint measurements at specific times. We put this data right to use by comparing it to daily global and regional snow cover model estimates.

We put this data right to use by comparing it to global and regional snow cover model estimates.

How well did the citizen scientists’ data stack up against modern snow-mapping models? From the comparisons made to date, citizen scientists’ measurements, on average, match the snow cover model estimates! The differences were generally related to differences in the spatial resolution of the models compared with the pinpoint measurements of the Snowtweets data. These ground measurements, in part, verify the snow cover models, at least in regions where the snowtweets were reported. Snowtweets also complement these (daily or weekly) models by providing a sparse, yet near-real-time source of data and we are looking towards ways to incorporate them carefully once they are available.

We know we’ll need to see more frequent measurements from citizen scientists when we run this again, this winter. This will help us look for patterns and, again, compare the information against the models. With enough Snowtweets over a few seasons, we may be able to create a new snow depth product, blending and mapping satellite observations with ground measurements in real time! If you’d like to learn more about Snowtweets or our findings, please post your questions or comments in the comments field and we’ll respond as best we can. To sign up to participate in Snowtweets, go to to register or to for instructions on how to contribute via Twitter.

Thank you to all who participated. We look forward to continuing this research with you, this winter!

In the interim, consider helping researchers at the National Phenology Network as they try to solve the mystery of the changing migration patterns of the American Robin. Get started here.