Snowshoe & sample snow to improve climate models

4 Hours
Citizen Science Activity
Recommended Contribution from

NOK 1250

Per Person

In a nutshell

Where: Near Tromsø
When: March-April
Duration: 4,5 hours

Meeting time: 9:50 in the city center (outside the Scandic hotel)
Return: 15:00 in the city center
Inclusions: Homemade sandwich and cookies, hot drinks and snowshoes.
Group size: 4 to 8
Goal: Improve the weather forecast models and make climate models more accurate.
Mission: Collecting snow samples in the mountains around Tromsø.
Research partners: University of Bergen, ISLAS

Why is this project important?

The global atmosphere can be considered as an approximately steady-state reservoir for water vapor. New water vapor continuously enters the atmosphere through evaporation from the ocean and land surface, and is removed by precipitation (rain, snow). In the long term, this steady-state system is in balance. But with climate change, the Earth’s atmosphere is warming up and the residence time distribution of water vapor changes, with shorter and longer residence times occurring in different regions of the globe. Exactly how things are changing is not fully understood, and this knowledge gap reduces our ability to forecast the weather and to predict what the climate will be in the future.

This citizen science project helps answer questions such as where does water evaporate? How long does it stay in the atmosphere?  and where does it fall?  The answers will help better understand the atmospheric hydrological cycle (how it is now and how it will be in the future) for example to anticipate extreme meteorological events, and be better prepared.

Citizen science is key to the success of this project. Why? Because the participation of the public makes it possible to collect a great number of snow samples, over vast areas in Scandinavia, which is precisely what the scientists need... but can't achieve alone for lack of time, funding and manpower.

What are the goals of the project?

- Improve the weather forecast models
- Make climate models more accurate
- Anticipate and adapt to extreme meteorological events

Our research partner

University of Bergen

Our research partner is Professor Harald Sodemann (Geophysical Institute, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Norway) who initiated the ISLAS (ISotopic Links to Atmospheric) project in 2019.

How you can contribute

Join us for a day-trip in the spectacular fjords around Tromsø in March and April, when winter meets the sun and daylight illuminates the snow-covered landscape. With snowshoes on, we will hike away from roads and villages, keep an eye in the sea for otters and in the sky for white-tailed eagles. We will teach you the standardized methods developed by our research partner, and together we will record basic observations and use dedicated sampling kits to collect snow. Citizen science gives a purpose to a hike in the wilderness but we'll also enjoy every step of the way, just  because we love being in the mountains!

Timing and logistics

At 9:50, we will meet in the city center (outside the Scandic hotel), introduce ourselves and the facilitator will give a short presentation of the citizen science project. We will then drive away from Tromsø, jump off the van, put on snowshoes and hike to a spot in the mountains that has not been sampled yet, or not since the previous snowfall. Once we have reached our destination, we will divide the sampling kits between the participants and everyone will contribute to the sampling effort. We will follow the methods to maximize data quality (that's for the researcher who need reliable data) and to make sure our contribution is productive. We will aim to be back to Tromsø city center by 15:00.

What happens next?

The success of this project depends greatly on the contribution of volunteers. There would simply be no citizen science project without the contribution of citizen scientists. And this leaves Wild Lab with a big responsibility: to keep the volunteers informed. Soon after your participation, your observations will be shared with our research partner, who will eventually publish the result of their work in scientific journals and other media. The role of Wild Lab is to make sure that these results reach you. For us, reporting is a way to maintain a connection with our volunteers, to keep raising awareness and growing a sense of caring, and to maintain a community of nature advocates.

What you will get from this experience

- Contribute to a scientific endeavor
- Learn new things and new skills
- Spend time in and experience nature
- Engage in a meaningful project
- Feel useful and make a difference
- Meet and spend time with people who have similar interests
- Have fun
- Build social connections

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