Cold Lands Mission Experiment

March 04, 2002


Provided by: Richard Kelly, GEST; NASA
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

Cold land areas form a major component of the Earth's hydrologic system. The NASA Cold Land Processes Mission is concerned with frozen landscapes - areas of the Earth's land surface where water is frozen either seasonally or permanently. These areas represent the land component of the cryosphere. The first phase of this mission was conducted in Colorado from February 17-24, 2002. Snow data were collected on the ground by teams of scientists, and simultaneously, aircraft sensors (operating in microwave, visible and gamma wavelengths) acquired data over the same sites sampled by the scientists.

On the above photograph, snow hydrologists are shown sampling a snow pit. In order to sample snow conditions at a particular site, in this case in the Rocky Mountains near Rabbit Ear's Pass, pits must be dug that go all the way through the snowpack - the snow here is about 1 m deep. Data on snow crystal size and shape, snowpack temperature, soil condition (frozen or unfrozen), and the thickness of different snow layers were collected from pits such as this one.

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