Onward: Finding Out How Much Water Is in the West

In the picturesque landscape of Yosemite National Park, Tom Painter of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is measuring the mountain snowpack. Using the Airborne Snow Observatory and a plethora of sophisticated tools, Tom is hoping to find out how much snow is melted by the sun and how deep the snowpack is, which will help the California Department of Water Resources make more accurate forecasts of the runoff from the snowpack—all to help us better adapt to a changing climate.

Click to read more about the role of technology in dealing with the drought.

Onward is a project to explore the world and share its untold stories. Click here to hit the road with National Geographic multimedia journalists Spencer Millsap and Dan Stone. Or tweet them at @spono and @danenroute to join the conversation.