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Snow (a lot of it)… and Ice – Adventures in Albedo!

9 January 2018 No Comment

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90% of the United States began the year of 2018 with freezing temperatures.

The Northeast has recently experienced a massive winter snowstorm, referred to as a “bomb cyclone“. Record cold temperatures, not felt since 1884, are being experienced in Boston. Beyond New England, a majority of the rest of the country is also being affected by the brutal cold; this includes Texas, Georgia, and Florida, even.

Why is this happening? And, why is this happening now? Could it have something to do with climate change?

Dr. Ulyana “Uly” Horodyskyj uses ASD’s FieldSpec HandHeld 2 VNIR spectroradiometer to attempt to find out and answer these questions. Uly studies snow and ice, collecting albedo data, and conducting research on how visible and near-infrared (VNIR) analysis can help identify snow and ice reflectance properties, including spectral radiance and light-absorbing impurities (LAI) such as dust/black carbon.

What is Albedo?

According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, albedo is “a non-dimensional, unitless quantity that indicates how well a surface reflects solar energy; absorbed solar energy can be used to heat the surface or, when sea ice is present, melt the surface.”

Uly_HH2_Split

Educating Others

Education is also a large component of Uly’s work. She collaborated with ASD in 2016, sharing her research on our Adventures in Albedo Webinar. Uly was featured for her project work in The Himalayas in 2017, educating sherpas on their changing environment and glacial health… you can watch her “Sherpa Science Initiative – Documenting Climate Change with Citizen Science” video below (see the HandHeld 2 in action at 4:05 and 6:12!)

ASD’s FieldSpec line of spectroradiometers offers multiple configuration options for measurements above and below the snow and ice surfaces. The ability to accurately perform field reflectance and radiometric measurements is critical to climate research. FieldSpec spectroradiometers are frequently used by researchers to perform requisite field measurements for remote sensing assessments of snow cover and to calculate key criteria for surface energy balance modeling of snow-covered and glaciated areas.

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