Jeff Dozier’s life’s work revealed itself in 1974, while he was 20,000 feet high in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush range. A newly minted doctorate in geography from University of Michigan took a class about avalanches, and realized much of his academic work had application in world of snow and ice. So he wrote a grant proposal to NASA for a study that would take the nascent worlds of computing and remote sensing via satellite and apply them to study of mountain snowpack. Dozier’s work has helped create a better understanding of the role that snowfall and snowmelt have in the hydrologic cycle. Throughout much of the West, very little of the water that people use -- from household tap water to agricultural irrigation -- comes from rain. Rather, it’s from melting snow and ice in mountain ranges such as the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, where water is “banked” in the winter, then drawn down during the dry, warm summer months.
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