NASA’s new snow measurement tools invading Marquette County

NEGAUNEE — Snow. It’s part of this area that the world has learned to embrace and, to those lucky enough to live here, cherish. NASA is another one of these admirers and the agency has employed a team to research snow in Marquette County.

Mark Kulie, an assistant professor in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech, is one of the researchers enlisted by the agency to deploy twelve high-tech precipitation gauges between Marquette Mountain and Ishpeming.

“NASA has an earth science satellite called the ‘Global Precipitation Measurement Mission’ and it’s a satellite that has a radar on it and something called a microwave radiometer. They use these instruments to estimate rain and snow around the globe,” said Kulie.

The gauges, or “Pluvios,” will collect, weigh and analyze the snow that falls inside. This will create a more accurate measure of data gathered on the ground-level and compare it to the satellite data to generate more precise precipitation estimates.

Marquette County was chosen as a site to focus solely on snow because the area is a unique place for snow.

“It gets a lot of different types of snow and NASA is interested in looking at these different types, lake effect snow versus snow formed by large weather systems. We need to develop the statistics for these different types of snowfall events and Marquette County is the perfect place for that,” said Kulie.

Another advantage to deploying the Pluvios in Marquette County is the relationship with the National Weather Service and the residents themselves.

“We have a lot of citizen-scientists in Marquette County who have stepped up to help us and we really appreciate that. This is an effort by NASA, the National Weather Service, Michigan Tech and the citizens of Marquette County,” said Kulie. “We greatly appreciate their help.”

Kulie and his team will be installing the Pluvios through Saturday.