The purpose of this roadmap is to outline a near- to medium-term plan in support of the SnowEx Science Plan for future research designed to improve global snow characterization capabilities. A primary goal is to align field campaigns, instrument testing, algorithm development and modeling efforts to improve snow characterization in a systematic approach that will result in an overall advancement of global snow observation capabilities. This roadmap is intended to be a timeline for research and activities conducted through the NASA THP Snow program and in partnerships with international and university partners and other federal agencies. The THP Snow program will coordinate snow field campaigns and activities intended to prepare the snow community for potential satellite missions and mission proposal calls that will lead to improvements in global snow science.
Numerous factors guide the development of the roadmap and prioritization of activities, including upcoming field campaigns, satellite opportunities, sensing technique maturity and others. The snow community has adopted an strategy to snow estimation that does not necessarily rely on a single sensing technique but seeks to evaluate and use all sources of information that provide value within a modeling and assimilation framework. Future mission opportunities are considered in the context that the mission would fill a remaining gap, not currently addressed by existing sensors. Therefore, activities which advance modeling frameworks and data merging capabilities are of significant relevance. Following the 2014 meeting, NASA SnowEx was initiated, which is a multi-year field and airborne campaign, sponsored by the NASA Terrestrial Hydrology Program (THP), to test snow remote sensing instruments for space potential. In addition, the Decadal Survey and other upcoming satellite missions and scientific advances have influenced the timing and prioritization of activities.