A new NASA airborne mission has created the first maps of the entire snowpack of two major mountain watersheds in California and Colorado, producing the most accurate measurements to date of how much water they hold.
The data from NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory mission will be used to estimate how much water will flow out of the basins when the snow melts. The data-gathering technology could improve water management for 1.5 billion people worldwide who rely on snowmelt for their water supply.
“The Airborne Snow Observatory is on the cutting edge of snow remote-sensing science,” said Jared Entin, a program manager in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Decision makers like power companies and water managers now are receiving these data, which may have immediate economic benefits.”
The mission is a collaboration between NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the California Department of Water Resources in Sacramento.