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Volunteers needed for NIWA snow project

Volunteers needed for NIWA snow project

NIWA wants to recruit school students and members of the public over winter keen to take part in a citizen science initiative, and this week might be a good week to start.

All you need is a mobile phone, a ruler, a container – and some snow.

Scientist Christian Zammit is calling on students to take regular measurements at their school when it snows and send the information to NIWA to help scientists better understand how snow falls and how much it varies between locations.

Dr Zammit says there is very little scientific data about snow in New Zealand but it was important to help understand risk to buildings and infrastructure, such as power lines, and the impact on ground water and how weather develops.

Scientists have been taking regular snow measurements below 300m since 2009 but a lot more local information was needed that scientists were not able to obtain without the public’s help.

“The idea is that citizens carry out measurements which is at a fixed location and can help us build our database over time,” Dr Zammit said.

“We need to establish a time series at a specific location, such as a school, house or farm to help us understand when it snows and how it varies from location to location.”

People can also take measurements where they live or at a point they could easily return to.

There are two measurements that are helpful to scientists. The first is the depth of the snow and the second is the snow density, or how heavy the snow is. This is important when it comes to the amount of snow buildings can withstand or how much snow melt is to recharge the local groundwater system.

With snow falling around the country this week Dr Zammit said it was an ideal time for people to begin their snow measurements.

NIWA has made it easy to record snow measurements by developing a phone app that can be accessed by going to

The app will also be downloadable from the Google Play and Apple iStores soon.

All the instructions on how to make accurate snow measurements are on our

There is no need to register, but make sure you take care and follow all proper safety procedures.


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