NASA is recruiting citizen scientists to measure snow depth

Women cross country skiing on the Icicle River trail in Leavenworth, Eastern Washington State. Photo: Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images

A NASA program is recruiting citizen scientists to measure snowpack in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: The measurements are used to estimate how much water is being held in the snow, and therefore how much will be released into rivers and reservoirs in the area. In the western U.S., "nearly three-fourths of annual stream flow that provides drinking water comes from spring and summer melt," writes the AP's Dan Joling. Researchers want to improve the accuracy of measurements so that simulations can better predict the effect of snowmelt on a watershed.