UCSB Geography alumnus Tom Painter (PhD, 2002) was recently featured on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition show. Dr. Painter, now a Research Scientist II at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder specializes in the remote sensing of snow cover properties, imaging spectroscopy, snow optical properties, the spatial distribution of snow cover properties, the effects of desert dust deposits on snow albedo, the integration of remote sensing and distributed snow models, robotic instrument development, and the spatial distribution of desert surface properties and snow algae.
NPR’s feature was titled “Dust Storms Threaten Snow Packs,” and it featured Dr. Painter’s study of “dusty snow” in the Colorado Rockies which have endured six dust storms since last December, the worst it has been in at least two decades. The dust, which is stirred up by human activities in semi-arid lands, makes snow melt faster—and that can spell trouble for anyone who relies on the resulting runoff. Dr. Painter is well aware of both the global and the local implications: “As a participant in society, it’s a bit troubling, wondering, with my son coming into the world, whether in 15 years I’m going to tell him what snow used to look like.” For the complete text and pictures, go to http://www.npr.org/templates