The Snowtweets Project provides a way for people interested in snow measurements to quickly broadcast their own snow depth measurements to the web. These data are then picked up by our database and mapped in near real time. We are especially interested in using web-based digital technologies to map snow depth data; currently, the project uses the micro-blogging site Twitter as its data broadcasting scheme.
Visualization of data is a key aspect of the project. To view the snow depth measurements (or tweets), we have developed a data visualization tool called Snowbird that lets you explore the reported snow depths around the globe. You can also click on the navigation link (visualization) at the top of the page that will take you there. The viewer shows where the reports are located and how much snow there is at each reported site.
We have also developed a near real-time satellite data feed so you can see how the tweets compare with the satellite view. Snowbird will allow you to toggle real-time satellite NASA MODIS data which gives snow cover extent. You can also look at some historical maps for north America.
The Snowtweets project is in early stages of development and we plan to update and improve it as we go along. We rely on user participation to measure snow depth (including zero snow depth) and then send the measurements in.
Snowtweets is designed to engage the non-specialist in citizen science through "crowdsourcing". Anyone with a Twitter account can tweet their data using the hashtag protocol. In essence, the more the merrier. Since it is pretty open, in our visualisation of the data, we use only public domain maps and data such as OpenStreetMaps, NASA Blue Marble and the commercial service of Bing. All of these products have legal stipulations for the users but we have decided to use them for ease and relative transparency.
Please note that this project does not seek to replicate other existing community-based projects. Rather we aim to attract as many new contributors as possible through widely used web-media, such as Twitter, who might not be aware of these other projects and who are likely non-specialist.