ASPEN — On a sunny day in mid-April, scientist Jeff Deems strapped on his backcountry skis, tromped out to a snow-covered field and began digging.
“I was expecting there to be a little more than 70 centimeters here,” he said, standing in the middle of a snow pit that looked vaguely like a shallow grave. Somewhere overhead, out of sight, his team was in an airplane over the Roaring Fork Valley mapping its snowpack from above.
Each year, Deems and his partners at Airborne Snow Observatories Inc. use lasers, planes and their own two feet to calculate how much water is in the mountain snowpack, where most of the state’s water supply is stored before it melts each spring. Their monitoring technique, developed at NASA, offers better accuracy than other tools and can…
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