Bringing Microphysics to the Masses: The Blowing Snow Observations at the University of North Dakota: Education through Research (BLOWN-UNDER) Campaign

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society


Harsh winters and hazards such as blizzards are synonymous with the northern Great Plains of the United States. Studying these events is difficult; the juxtaposition of cold temperatures and high winds makes microphysical observations of both blowing and falling snow challenging. Historically, these observations have been provided by costly hydrometeor imagers that have been deployed for field campaigns or at select observation sites. This has slowed the development and validation of microphysics parameterizations and remote-sensing retrievals of various properties. If cheaper, more mobile instrumentation can be developed, this progress can be accelerated. Further, lowering price barriers can make deployment of instrumentation feasible for education and outreach purposes.

The Blowing Snow Observations at the University of North Dakota: Education through Research (BLOWN-UNDER) Campaign took place during the winter of 2019-2020 to investigate strategies for obtaining microphysical measurements in the harsh North Dakota winter. Student led, the project blended education, outreach, and scientific objectives. While a variety of in-situ and remote-sensing instruments were deployed for the campaign, the most novel aspect of the project was the development and deployment of OSCRE, the Open Snowflake Camera for Research and Education. Images from this instrument were combined with winter weather educational modules to describe properties of snow to the public, K-12 students, and members of indigenous communities through a tribal outreach program. Along with an educational deployment of a Doppler on Wheels mobile radar, nearly 1000 individuals were reached during the project.

First Page


Last Page