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Arctic Snow

The studies at Imnavait Creek north of the Brooks Range in Alaska have measured snow melt since 1984… representing the longest ongoing record of snowmelt and runoff. Scientists there can tell you it’s never a uniform melt. Snow melt is a process; it clears out patchily, leaving some ground exposed to the sky while other areas are still cloaked in snow so deep the researchers must wear snowshoes.

Matthew Sturm, geophysics professor at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, calls the Imnavait Creek studies a ‘ground-truth spot,’ a place that can help us refine our understanding of snow and how we interpret snow data.

snow covered Alaska satellite image
A snow-bound Alaska. Image captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. / Courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA Earth Observatory

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