In January, as part of a News Year's resolution, Larson contacted the Mesa County Surveyor's Office in
While the Mesa County GPS system is used for everything from capital improvements like road and bridge building to boundary line measurements and even some criminal cases -- including homicides -- the new snowpack information Larson has been teasing out of the data should be of interest to water resource managers, farmers, atmospheric scientists and others, she believes.
"I knew that most surveyors use the exact same equipment I do, and I looked at this as a chance to help out water managers, farmers and others on the Western Slope interested in information like spring runoff and crop moisture," she said. "I'm certainly not the only one measuring snow depth in
Originally developed in the 1970s for military use, GPS technology is in wide use today, telling drivers and hikers their exact position on the planet and providing directions to their destinations by gathering signals simultaneously from the 31 operating GPS satellites now orbiting Earth. The current GPS system in
Larson first spoke with
"When Kristine contacted me to see if I would make our GPS data available to her, it was a no-brainer," said Kochevar. "I'm always interested in new ways to use this technology."
What Larson needed was signal strength data that had bounced off the snow before arriving at the GPS receivers at the various
Kochevar said it took him just minutes to change the logging strategy of the Mesa County GPS system. He began making the new data available to Larson daily.
Kochevar has been traveling to other cities and counties in
"The people in
Federal government groups using Larson's public snow depth data include meteorologists and climate scientists from the
"I admit I was a little surprised when I learned that Kristine and her colleagues had come up with a novel way to use these multipath GPS signals," Kochevar said. "I don't think there are too many people out there yet who understand the advantage they can gain from using the type of data she is generating."
Kochevar said he believes the data would likely be valuable to local and state government agencies interested in water storage, especially in the
Larson also is working with data collected by UNAVCO, a
UNAVCO not only sets up GPS stations around the West, it also installs supporting equipment like seismometers and strain meters to monitor the constant movements of the colliding Pacific and North American tectonic plates. A number of UNAVCO instruments are in place along the San Andreas Fault in
In 2012 Larson and CU-Boulder Assistant Professor
Last year, Larson even developed a method to assess the density of volcanic plumes using GPS, a valuable data set for airline companies and the military whose aircraft safety potentially could be compromised by such particle-filled plumes.
Larson said she plans to continue working with the
"This is my baby," Kochevar said. "I live for this network."
To view a map of the Mesa County GPS network visit http://emap.mesacounty.us/GPS_Survey/GPS_Survey.htm. To view a sample posting of daily snowpack near
TNS 30TagarumaMar-140508-4729186 30TagarumaMar
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