NASA Studies Snow At The Winter Olympics

NASA engineer Manuel Vega can see one of the Olympic ski jump towers from the rooftop of the South Korean weather office where he is stationed. Vega is not watching skiers take flight, preparing for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympic games. Instead, he’s inspecting the SUV-sized radar beside him. The instrument is one 11 NASA instruments specially transported to the Olympics to measure the quantity and type of snow falling on the slopes, tracks and halfpipes. NASA will make these observations as one of 20 agencies from eleven countries in the Republic of Korea as participants in a project called the International Collaborative Experiments for PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, or ICE-POP. Led by the Korean Meteorological Administration, the international team will make snow measurements from the start of the Olympics on Feb. 9 through the end of the Paralympics on March 18. Vega and the international team is studying how well researchers can measure snow from the ground and space and provide better data for snowstorm predictions. The NASA team, along with U.S. colleagues at Colorado State University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will use a cadre of ground instruments, satellite data, and weather models to deliver detailed reports of current snow conditions and will test experimental forecasts models. NASA’s observations and snow forecasts will be made at sixteen different Olympic event venues and then relayed to Olympic officials to help them account for approaching weather.

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Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Joy Ng Music credit: “Reach Into The Night” by Andrew Michael Britton [PRS], David Stephen Goldsmith [PRS], Mikey Rowe [PRS] and “Progressive Practice” by Emmanuel David Lipszyc [SACEM], Franck Lascombes [SACEM], Sebastien Charles Lipszyc [SACEM] From Killer Tracks Additional image credit: Culture and Information Service (Jeon Han)