Students Join Scientists in the Snowy Rockies Via Live Webcasts
Students in classrooms everywhere are invited to explore the frozen landscapes of Colorado's Rocky Mountains in two live webcasts March 25 and 27 with scientists from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), other federal agencies and many universities studying the role of snow-cover on Earth's weather and climate. The team is studying snowpack from the ground, air and space this winter and spring to improve forecasts of springtime water supply and snowmelt floods.

The 2003 NASA-NOAA Cold Land Processes Experiment began in February and runs through March 31. It is being conducted in the central Rocky Mountains because of the wide array of different terrain, snow, soil and ecological characteristics. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is contributing scientists, airborne instruments and JPL-managed satellite data to the effort.

The interactive webcasts will allow students to become virtual participants in the experiment. They will gain an understanding of how remote sensing is used in Earth science research and how scientists verify data from airborne platforms and from satellites 705 kilometers (438 miles) above Earth.

On Tues., March 25th at 10 a.m. Pacific time, participants will rendezvous with Dr. Claire Parkinson, project scientist for NASA's Aqua satellite, to discuss activities being conducted by the Aqua satellite science teams. On Thurs., March 27th at 10 a.m. Pacific time, students will venture into the field to learn how satellite, aircraft, and on-site ground measurements are combined to study surface hydrology. Both webcasts feature Aqua satellite data, live two-way communication with the NASA DC-8 airplane flying over the study area, and live chat sessions with researchers, who will answer emailed questions.

The webcast is geared toward students in grades 5 through 12. Each webcast lasts 60-75 minutes and will be archived and video-indexed for long-term access. Content is aligned to National Science Education Standards. Video vignettes, satellite imagery, photos and video interviews will highlight the importance of snow cover, snow water content and hydrologic study in cold regions.

The experiment studies landscapes where water is seasonally or permanently frozen. Cold land regions form a major component of Earth's hydrologic system. Scientists are using skis, snowmobiles and aircraft to survey and sample snow, and microwave measurements from satellites and aircraft to measure characteristics and the freeze/thaw state of the land surface and snowpack.

Measurements from four aircraft; NASA's Terra, Aqua, and JPL-managed QuikScat satellites; NASA's JPL-managed SeaWinds scatterometer aboard Japan's Midori 2 satellite; and Canada's Radarsat satellite; are gathering snow data by remote sensing. Ground and aircraft data will be compared to satellite data to determine satellite data accuracy. Researchers hope someday to measure snow and ground characteristics from space. Ground teams, however, are crucial in ensuring instruments are reading correctly.

Researchers from several NASA field centers are conducting the experiment with NOAA scientists from the National Weather Service's National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. Other participants include the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and its Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Region Research and Engineering Lab, the U.S. Geological Survey and graduate students from universities worldwide. It is sponsored by NASA's Terrestrial Hydrology and Earth Observing System programs and by NOAA's Office of Global Programs to address broad interagency objectives in hydrology, water resources, ecology and atmospheric sciences.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research and prediction of weather and climate-related events, and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. NASA's Earth Science Enterprise is dedicated to understanding Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth system science to improve prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards.

Airsar website is: NOAA's website is: The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

News Media Contact

JPL/Alan Buis (818) 354-0474
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Cynthia M. O'Carroll (301) 614-5563
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, D.C.
Kent Laborde (202) 482-5757