Data Set ID: 

SnowEx17 Community Snow Pit Measurements, Version 1

This data set contains measurements of snow temperature, density, stratigraphy, grain size, wetness, depth, and snow water equivalent (SWE) for snow pits at two study sites in Colorado, USA: Grand Mesa and Senator Beck Basin. Data were collected during the NASA SnowEx 2017 campaign.

This is the most recent version of these data.

Version Summary: 

Initial release

STANDARD Level of Service

Data: Data integrity and usability verified

Documentation: Key metadata and user guide available

User Support: Assistance with data access and usage; guidance on use of data in tools

See All Level of Service Details

Data Format(s):
  • Comma-Separated Values (.csv)
Spatial Coverage:
N: 38, 
N: 39.1, 
S: 37.8, 
S: 39, 
E: -107.65, 
E: -107.8, 
W: -107.8
W: -108.2
Spatial Resolution:
  • Varies x Varies
Temporal Coverage:
  • 6 February 2017 to 25 February 2017
Temporal ResolutionNot applicableMetadata XML:View Metadata Record
Data Contributor(s):Kelly Elder, Ludovic Brucker, Christopher Hiemstra, Hans-Peter Marshall

Geographic Coverage

Other Access Options

Other Access Options


As a condition of using these data, you must cite the use of this data set using the following citation. For more information, see our Use and Copyright Web page.

Elder, K., L. Brucker, C. Hiemstra, and H. Marshall. 2018. SnowEx17 Community Snow Pit Measurements, Version 1. [Indicate subset used]. Boulder, Colorado USA. NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center. doi: [Date Accessed].

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Detailed Data Description


The main parameters in this data set are snow pit measurements obtained by the SnowEx community during the 2017 campaign. Data are available for two locations in Colorado, USA: Grand Mesa, a snow-covered, forested study site about 40 miles east of Grand Junction and Senator Beck Basin approximately 80 miles to the SSE of Grand Mesa. The following measurements are available: 

  • Temperature
  • Stratigraphy
  • Grain size
  • Grain type
  • Wetness
  • Depth
  • Density
  • Snow water equivalent (SWE)

Descriptions of each parameter are provided in the technical reference for this data set.

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Data files are provided in Comma Separated Values (.csv) format, which can be accessed using software that reads ASCII text. In total, 1062 CSV files are available for Grand Mesa and 170 for Senator Beck Basin.

Users may browse and download the files individually via HTTPS or NASA's Earthdata Search. In addition, users may order the data from Earthdata Search as two separate granules: one which contains all the files for Grand Mesa and/or a second which contains the Senator Beck Basin files.

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File Contents

Data were recorded for 265 snow pits: 225 at Grand Mesa (GM) and 40 at Senator Beck (SBB). Density, stratigraphy, and temperature are provided in separate files for each snow pit. Each snow pit also has a corresponding header file that contains site information such as location (UTM) and comments. Snow water equivalents are stored in two master files, one for each study site (GM or SBB). Qualitative environmental observations about each study site are also available. The original data intake form, including descriptions of each parameter, are provided as a technical reference for this data set.

The following table describes the contents of each file type:

Table 1. File Types and Contents
File Type Contents
Header Location (GM or SBB), site and Pit ID, date/time, UTM coordinates, slope, total depth, new snow depth, new snow SWE, weather, comments.
Density Density (kg/m3) profile at 10 cm intervals
Stratigraphy Layer thickness, grain size, grain type, 
Temperature Location (GM or SBB), site and Pit ID, date/time, UTM coordinates, depth, temperature (°C).
Snow Water Equivalent Two files, one for GM and one for SBB. Each row contains the site and snow pit ID, date/time, UTM coordinates, density A (kg/m3), density B (kg/m3), mean density (kg/m3), SWE A (mm), SWE B (mm), mean SWE (mm), and snow depth (cm).
Environment Two files, one for GM and one for SBB. These files contain qualitative observations about potentially impactful environmental conditions, such as precipitation, cloud cover, wind, and ground cover. No QA/QC was performed on non-numerical values in these files.

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File Naming Convention

Data files utilize the following naming convention:

  • SnowEx17_SnowPits_[site]_[param]_[yyyymmdd]_[pitID]_v[nn].csv


  • SnowEx17_SnowPits_GM_density_20170206_L36_v01.csv
  • SnowEx17_SnowPits_GM_header_20170206_L36_v01.csv
  • SnowEx17_SnowPits_GM_stratigraphy_20170206_L36_v01.csv
  • SnowEx17_SnowPits_GM_temperature_20170206_L36_v01.csv
  • SnowEx17_SnowPits_GM_swe_201702_v01.csv
  • SnowEx17_SnowPits_GM_environment_201702_v01.csv
Table 2. File Naming Convention Variables
Variable Description
SnowEx17_SnowPits SnowEx17 Community Snow Pit Measurements data set
site Grand Mesa (GM) or Sentaor Beck Basin (SBB)
param Parameter. Density, stratigraphy, temperature, or environment. Header files also use this convention.
yyyymmdd Acquisition date
pitID Snow pit ID. IDs vary in length and can include underscores.
nn Version number

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    File Sizes

    CSV files range from aproximately 200 B — 18 KB. The single Grand Mesa granule (.zip) is approximately 500 KB. The Senator Beck Basin granule is approximately 75 KB.

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    Spatial Coverage

    Grand Mesa

    Northernmost Latitude: 39.1º N
    Southernmost Latitude: 39.0º N
    Easternmost Longitude: 107.8° W
    Westernmost Longitude: 108.2° W

    Senator Beck Basin

    Northernmost Latitude: 38.0º N
    Southernmost Latitude: 37.8º N
    Easternmost Longitude: 107.65 ° W
    Westernmost Longitude: 107.8 ° W

    Projection and Grid Description

    All snow pit locations are reported in geographic coordinates within UTM Zone 13N. Refer to Table 3 for details.

    Table 3. Geolocation Details
    Geographic coordinate system WGS 84
    Projected coordinate system WGS 84 / UTM zone 13N
    Longitude of true origin -105 (13N)
    Latitude of true origin 0
    Scale factor at longitude of true origin 0.9996
    Datum WGS 1984
    Ellipsoid/spheroid WGS 84
    Units meters
    False easting 500000
    False northing 0
    EPSG Code 32613 (13N)
    PROJ4 string +proj=utm +zone=13 +datum=WGS84 +units=m +no_defs
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    Temporal Coverage

    06 February to 25 February, 2017

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    Software and Tools

    CSV files can be accessed using software that reads ASCII text.

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    Data Acquisition and Processing

    Data Acquisition Methods

    Measurements were hand-written in field notebooks and transcribed to Excel files by a contracted company. After all records in the data set were verified, transcription errors were manually corrected with the exception of comments, including stratigraphy comments. Pit positions were adjusted based on GPS or differential GPS measurements, where available, that were recorded in the summer 2017. The data set was then visually inspected for completeness and positional accuracy.

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    Derivation Techniques and Algorithms


    Quality, Errors, and Limitations

    Non-numerical values were not evaluated for errors in the enivronment files SnowEx17_SnowPits_SBB_environment_201702_v01.csv and SnowEx17_SnowPits_GM_environment_201702_v01.csv.

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    Sensor or Instrument Description


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    References and Related Publications

    Contacts and Acknowledgments


    Principle Investigator
    Kelly Elder
    Supervisory Research Hydrologist
    240 West Prospect Road
    Fort Collins, CO 80526

    Document Information


    May 2018

    How To

    Programmatic Data Access Guide
    Data from the NASA National Snow and Ice Data Center Distributed Active Archive Center (NSIDC DAAC) can be accessed directly from our HTTPS file system or through our Application Programming Interface (API). Our API offers you the ability to order data using specific temporal and spatial filters... read more