Measuring the Snow

Measuring SnowWith a half an inch of snow in the back yard this morning, I’m reminded of one of my favorite bits of data-gathering described in my book.

In addition to the stories of scientists who study western climate, we included activities for young people to do for themselves. Weather and climate are the most accessible of sciences, because they’re happening all around you. That makes them a great teaching tool.

This morning, I’ve got the rain gauge in the kitchen melting to see how much liquid precip we got overnight, and I’ve been in the backyard to measure snow depth.

Here are the basics: Take a ruler outside. Look for places where the snow has fallen on a flat surface, like a picnic table or the top of your car. Stick the ruler down through the snow, and note the height of the top of the snow on the ruler. Take three measurements and average them.

I have learned in doing this myself over the years that I’m not very good at “eyeballing” it and guessing the depth, a reminder of the usefulness of measuring.

The Tree Rings’ Tale: Understanding Our Changing Climate (Worlds of Wonder), available now.

(Note that the picture’s from the book, not from today.)


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