Study: River Forecasting in Rockies Needs Dusting

Aug 1, 2013

Dust on snow is easily visible to human eyes. And Satellites too. Burgess-Bryant is involved in a project that assesses dustfall on snowpack using satellite imagery.
Credit NASA

Snow in the Upper Colorado River Basin provides water for seven states.  Farmers, factories, and families alike depend on this water, and a considerable amount of effort goes into understanding and forecasting how much melt is going to come from the snowpack, and when.  

In recent years though, predicting runoff from the snowpack has gotten tougher. The reason? Dust.  The Western US has gotten dustier over past two decades. Ann Burgess-Bryant is a scientist who has recently found that poor river forecasting can be attributed to how much dust falls on our snow. She spoke with Ellis Robinson for Mountain Edition.