GLOBE Connections

Changes in Snow and Ice Extent: Protocols and Data Sheets

Snow Cover Northern Hemisphere NASA Earth Observatory Image

GLOBE protocols have been developed as a collaborative effort involving scientists, educators and citizen scientists. Data sheets have been developed for the purpose of a unified method of data collection. 

Precipitation: Students use a rain gauge and a snowboard to measure the daily amount of precipitation that has occurred. Students measure the depth and rain equivalent of each day’s snow and of the total snowpack. Special pH measuring techniques for precipitation are used to determine the pH of rain and melted snow.
Student Outcomes:precipitation protocols

  • Students will understand that precipitation is measured in depth and this depth is assumed to apply to a large area, that precipitation has a pH that can vary, and that snow is an input of water to the surface just like rain and each snowfall is equivalent to some amount of rainfall

Frost Tube: Students will construct a Frost Tube that is inserted into a hole in an undisturbed and un-compacted soil. During the cold months, students will measure the depth at which water in the Frost Tube freezes, indicating that the surrounding soil has frozen.Frost Tube Protocol
Student Outcomes:

  • Observe when water in the Frost Tube freezes
  • Collect and analyze data related to freezing of soil to understand how soil temperature and moisture coincide with changes in seasons across different biomes
  • Examine relationships among air, soil and permafrost
  • Communicate project results with other GLOBE schools
  • Collaborate with other GLOBE schools (within your country or other countries)
  • Share observations by submitting data to the GLOBE archive
  • Compare the timing and depth of freezing in soils in different regions around the world
  • Predict the timing and depth of freezing for upcoming seasons (advanced)

Solid PrecipitationStudents will measure the amount of new snow that has collected on your snowboard in comparison with the total depth of snow on the ground.  Solid Precipitation
Student Outcomes

  • Students will measure the amount of new snow that has collected on your snowboard
  • Students will measure the total depth of snow on the ground
  • Students will obtain samples of new snow and snowpack for pH measurement
  • Students will obtain samples of new snow and snowpack to determine the water equivalent
  • Prepare the snowboard to collect more snow

Snowboard Construction: A snowboard is a thin, flat surface that rests on top of earlier layers of snow. New snow falls on top of it and can be measured with a meter stick.


Arctic Bird Migration: Over the year, students observe when specified migratory bird species first arrive and count their numbers until few or none of them remain.Arctic Bird Migration Protocol
Student Outcomes:

  • Students will learn to identify different species of birds, their migratory patterns and behavior, as well as using standardized methods to gather scientific data

Data Sheets:


Field Guide: