The background, scientific objective, investigation contents and scheme of project “Investigation on snow characteristics and their distribution in China” was introduced in this paper. The general objective of the investigation is to build comprehensive and systematic database of snow characteristics in China, at the service of providing data for the climate change, water resource and snow disaster studies. The investigation will be performed on the three fields including the compilation of historical data, in situ measurement of snow characteristics in the typical regions, and investigation of snow characteristics using remote sensing methods. For the compilation of historical data, the historical snow data from the meteorological stations and research institutes will be firstly collected, and then they will be compiled based on a standard rule. In situ observation will be performed at point, line and area-scale on the typical regions which include Northeast region, Xinjiang Degion, and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The observation content will contain snow depth, snow density, snow water equivalent, snow particle shape, hardness of snowpack surface, liquid water content, grain size, snow temperature, snow/soil temperature, dielectric constant, and some chemical parameters. These snow characteristics are the priority information used for the modification of retrieval algorithm on snow parameters. Remote sensing methods will be used to build long-time series of snow cover, snow albedo and snow water equivalent datasets based on these modified algorithms. Finally, the snow characteristics from both in situ and remote sensing investigation will be used to classify snow types in China, and produce distribution maps of snow characteristic and other thematic maps.