An interdisciplinary approach for recording changes in snow in Greenland and Austria

Snow is a key variable of climate change, making it and its associated impacts clearly visible. The changes in snow cover over the last 150 years or so are well documented for the Alps from measurements. However, the situation in Greenland is completely different. Although snow also plays a central role for the population there, hardly any measurements are available for this huge island. 

This research gap motivates the overall research goal of Snow2School, namely to be able to better quantify changes in snow conditions using the example of Tasiilaq (East Greenland), by means of a new reconstruction method based on photographs, which is being developed and tested for Eisenerz (Austria, Alps).  At the same time, Snow2School aims to generate a better understanding of the impact of snow changes (against the background of climate change) on the lives of people in East Greenland and Austria. Snow2School thus pursues an interdisciplinary research approach with strong Citizen Science support. The chosen Citizen Science approach, namely the interpretation and evaluation of photographs and film recordings from the past as well as the recording of the associated narratives of the local population, is particularly well suited, as snow strongly affects the everyday life of the students, but also of the population as a whole. Thus, a high motivation of the students can be expected. At the same time, the involvement of schools from both Austria and Greenland enables a comparison of how the population is affected by climate change, as well as an identification of similarities and differences in the narratives associated with the snow.

Main scientific objectives of Snow2School:

Objective 1: Develop a new indirect Citizen Science method to reconstruct past snow depths (and snow extent) from photographs, complemented by narratives of local people, for regions with few/no available measurements.

Objective 2: Generate new observational data of snow characteristics for Greenland using a sample region to infer longer-term changes in snow cover and understand them in the context of climate change.

Objective 3: To elaborate the knowledge gained by incorporating the long-term experience and knowledge of local populations regarding changing climate and environmental conditions.

(Photocredit © Schöner)