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SNOTEL


SNOTEL is an automated system of snowpack and related climate sensors operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture in the Western United States.

There are over 730 SNOTEL (or snow telemetry) sites in 11 states, including Alaska. The sites are generally located in remote high-mountain watersheds where access is often difficult or restricted. Access for maintenance by the NRCS includes various modes from hiking and skiing to helicopters.

All SNOTEL sites measure snow water content, accumulated precipitation, and air temperature. Some sites also measure snow depth, soil moisture and temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. These data are used to forecast yearly water supplies, predict floods, and for general climate research.

Installation of SNOTEL began in the mid-1970s. Its use in climate forecasting was not originally envisioned, but it has become the standard climate data for western U.S. locations which are elevated sufficiently to have at least a seasonal snowpack. Ongoing algorithm upgrades correct and backfill missing data, while improvements in communications improve the overall quality of data collection.

SNOTEL uses meteor burst communications technology to collect and communicate data in near-real-time. VHF radio signals are reflected at a steep angle off the ever present band of ionized meteors existing from about 50 to 75 miles (80 to 120 km) above the earth. Satellites are not involved; the NRCS operates and controls the entire system.



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Wikipedia

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