5. Backcountry enthusiasts invited to join the BC Snow Algae Project

Semaphore Lakes, near Pemberton, July 3 2016 photo by Klaus Tetzlaff

Our primary goal for the 2017 field season is to learn when and where algae bloom in the mountains of southwestern British Columbia. We can only do this with the help of citizen scientists who send us reports of their sightings of green/orange/pink/red snow. We will not be collecting physical samples this year, although that aspect of the project will return in 2018. This year we hope to receive a large number of reports spanning the whole season, including multiple reports from some locations. Observations by citizen-scientists are critical as we address basic questions such as: Are blooms are green before they turn red (see previous post on this blog)? How long do blooms last? Do they track to higher elevations as the season progresses? Observations by citizen scientists will provide the foundation for hypotheses and future experiments designed to determine why coloured snow appears in some locations and not others and how algae colonize the snow. As we head into March, keep your eye out for coloured snow, particularly at lower elevations.

Specifically, the data we hope to collect from backcountry adventurers (citizen-scientists) in 2017 is the following:

1. Photographs of the site: close-ups as well as wider perspectives showing the setting. Comparable shots of nearby white snow are also helpful.

2. An estimate of the size of area covered by coloured snow (e.g. “one patch the size of a parking spot with several smaller patches nearby.”)

3. GPS coordinates, elevation and name of location.

4. Date

5. Weather conditions (overcast? sunny? raining? snowing?). We are interested in conditions at the time of sighting as well as the few days preceding the sighting.

6. Site characteristics. (Can you tell if the snow is on rocks or soil or ice? Is there a forest canopy overhead or nearby? Is the snow dirty? Is there a fresh water source nearby?)

7. Snow conditions. (Soggy and wet? Dry and fluffy?)

8. An estimate of snow depth.

9. How many hours did you spend moving through the backcountry on this trip?

10. How many sightings of coloured snow did you make on this trip?

Please send observations, questions & suggestions to: bcsnowalgae@gmail.com

Finally, please help us spread the word by sharing with your friends and posting about the BC Snow Algae Project on your favourite backcountry board. Thank you! And happy trekking.

Follow the BC Snow Algae Project at Snow Algae Reports.

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