America’s space agency wants you to head for the mountains with a smartphone and a measuring stick.

NASA’s earth science arm is funding research that recruits citizen scientists on skis Rashaan Gaulden Color Rush Jersey , snowshoes and snowmobiles to measure snow depth in backcountry locations of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.

Their measurements will be incorporated into computer models that calculate how much water will end up in the region’s rivers and reservoirs.

Early results have been promising.

”Our initial model runs show that citizen science measurements are doing an amazing job of improving our simulations,” said David Hill, an Oregon State University professor of civil engineering, who is collaborating with Alaska and University of Washington researchers. They received one of 16 NASA citizen science grants for the project.

The snowpack measurements are incorporated into computer models estimating ”snow-water equivalent,” the amount of liquid water contained in snow cover, of a watershed.

In western states, according to NASA, nearly three-fourths of annual stream flow that provides drinking water comes from spring and summer melt.

NASA in February began a multiyear research project to improve the accuracy of its snow measurements with partners in Europe and Canada, trying to solve challenges such as detecting snow through trees.

The grant awarded to Hill, Anthony Arendt of the University of Washington and Gabriel Wolken, a research geologist with the Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys, is not directly connected to that project but has a mutual interest, said Kevin Murphy, a program executive for science data systems at NASA headquarters.

”We decided about two years ago to start this program, which really looks at how can we harness the creativity and the capabilities of citizens to augment a lot of our satellite or aircraft measurements,” Murphy said.

Snow telemetry stations maintained by the U.S. Agriculture Department are another important tool for measuring snow in high-elevation and other hard-to-access places, Hill said. The unmanned stations collect data using a system of automated sensors.

But too few of them exist Billy Price Color Rush Jersey , Hill said. ”They’re expensive to install, they’re expensive to maintain, so there just aren’t that many.”

The citizen snow-measuring program, Community Snow Observations , aims to supplement that with people.

”We want to turn the public into these mobile snow telemetry stations,” he said. ”You just need a probe to do it.”

The measuring device can be as rudimentary as a yardstick, Hill said, but most people venturing into mountains already carry an avalanche probe, a 5- to 6-meter stick that folds down like a tent pole. After an avalanche, the probes are used to feel for buried people. Probes typically carry measurement markings.

”You want to know when you actually find that person how deep they are,” Hill said. ”They’re really just a big, long ruler.”

For the citizen science program, an online tutorial tells participants to find undisturbed snow, push the probe firmly to the ground, read the depth in centimeters and enter the data onto a smartphone app. Participants are asked to repeat that several times and average the measurements.

The app records the location and time of the measurement and uploads the information. The program accounts for measurements in continental climate locations with light, dry snow or the wet, dense snow of maritime climates.

Initial measurements were made last winter in Alaska’s Thompson Pass north of Valdez Sam Hubbard Color Rush Jersey , where other snow research was being conducted.

”I recruited some of the folks from Valdez Avalanche Center. They brought friends along,” said Wolken, the Alaska research geologist. ”That was our first go at getting sort of a grassroots, citizen science team.”

The hundreds of measurements collected far outpaced what the scientists could gather themselves. When NASA announced grants for citizen scientist projects, the researchers jumped to apply, Wolken said.

Preliminary calculations have been ”striking,” Hill said, and the subject of a paper written by a doctoral student.

”He has results that basically show that the errors in our modeled snow-water equivalent are cut by about 90 percent with this input from public,” Hill said. ”We’re thrilled about that.”

Other NASA grants in the program will use citizen scientists to collect data on mosquito populations and their breeding environments around the world, water depths in lakes in North Carolina and elsewhere, moisture in soil at various locations, changes in giant kelp across the globe, and images of clouds from the ground in Colorado.

Chris Davis doesn’t blame the fans at Camden Yards for showering him with boos, especially when he’s walking back to the dugout after another strikeout.

The Orioles slugger is enduring a nightmare season. Although his power numbers have improved slightly since a recently mandated layoff, Davis is batting .156 with seven homers, 24 RBIs and 99 strikeouts at the midpoint of the season.

Not exactly what the Orioles were expecting when they signed the left-handed hitting first baseman to a guaranteed seven-year, $161 million contract in January 2016.

At the time of the deal Malik Jefferson Color Rush Jersey , Davis averaged 42 home runs and 109 RBIs over the previous three seasons and was coming off a year in which he hit .262 with 47 homers and 117 RBIs.

Since then, his production has dipped annually. His 2017 numbers – .215, 26 and 61 – were downright prolific compared to this year.

Thus, the jeers from the home fans, who have grown weary of watching the struggles of the highest-paid player on the worst team in the big leagues.

”I understand their frustration,” Davis said. ”I know exactly what I’m capable of and what I’ve done in the past. I know that the standard is high and I haven’t been playing that well. But I have to move forward and continue to try to find a way to still have an impact on this season.”

It’s probably too late for his bat to make a difference. His most significant influence on the team, unfortunately, is that his sizable contract makes it that much more difficult for Baltimore to pay big bucks to several of its pending free agents, most notably Manny Machado.

The Orioles and Davis appear destined to be together through the 2022 season, so both sides must make the best of it. That’s why Davis was given an eight-game hiatus in June to get his swing down and his head right. Up to that point, he had tried just about everything else.

”For me, it was exhausting,” Davis said. ”My solution to a lot of my problems in baseball has always been to work. I felt as long as I was working, as long as I was trying, that I would figure it out. This is the first time in my career when I was kind of at a point where I didn’t know what else to do.”

So he went to the sideline, working with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson, a left-handed batter who hit 50 homers for the Orioles in 1996.

Upon his return Mark Walton Color Rush Jersey , on June 26 in Atlanta, Davis homered and drove in two runs. Over the past 10 games, he’s hitting .158 with two doubles, two homers, nine RBIs and 13 strikeouts.

”His run production is a lot better, his at-bats have been better,” manager Buck Showalter insisted. ”They may say comparatively speaking, but if Chris continues at this rate, if you put it over 160 games it’s pretty good.”

Davis has tried just about everything else in an effort to get back into the groove, with the breakaway from the game coming as a last resort.

”I appreciate them giving me the chance to step back, gather myself and regroup,” he said.

Showalter and the organization can only hope for positive, lasting results.

”Chris has been a good friend of mine,” the manager said. ”He’s got a lot of support from the coaches and his teammates.”