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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Spatially Distributed Energy Balance Snowmelt Model for Application in Mountain Basins

Authors
item Marks, Daniel
item Domingo, J - OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
item Susong, David - U S GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
item Link, Timothy - OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
item Garen, David - NAT RESOURCE CONS SERVICE

Submitted to: Hydrological Processes
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 18, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Snowmelt is the principal source for soil moisture, ground-water re- charge, and stream-flow in mountainous regions of the western U.S., Canada, and other similar regions of the world. Information on the timing, magnitude, and contributing area of melt under variable or changing climate conditions is required for successful water and resource management. A coupled energy and mass-balance model ISNOBAL is used to simulate the development and melting of the seasonal snowcover in several mountain basins in California, Idaho, and Utah. Simulations are done over basins varying from 1 to 2,500 km2, with simulation periods varying from a few days for the smallest basin, Emerald Lake watershed in California, to multiple snow seasons for the Park City area in Utah. The model is driven by topographically corrected estimates of radiation, temperature, humidity, wind, and precipitation. Simulation results in all basins closely match independently measured snow water equivalent, snow depth, or runoff during both the development and depletion of the snowcover. Spatially distributed estimates of snow deposition and melt allow us to better understand the interaction between topographic structure, climate, and moisture availability in mountain basins of the western U.S. Application of topographically distributed models such as this will lead to improved water resource and watershed management.

Technical Abstract: Snowmelt is the principal source for soil moisture, ground-water re- charge, and stream-flow in mountainous regions of the western U.S., Canada, and other similar regions of the world. Information on the timing, magnitude, and contributing area of melt under variable or changing climate conditions is required for successful water and resource management. A coupled energy and mass-balance model ISNOBAL is used to simulate the development and melting of the seasonal snowcover in several mountain basins in California, Idaho, and Utah. Simulations are done over basins varying from 1 to 2,500 km2, with simulation periods varying from a few days for the smallest basin, Emerald Lake watershed in California, to multiple snow seasons for the Park City area in Utah. The model is driven by topographically corrected estimates of radiation, temperature, humidity, wind, and precipitation. Simulation results in all basins closely match independently measured snow water equivalent, snow depth, or runoff during both the development and depletion of the snowcover. Spatially distributed estimates of snow deposition and melt allow us to better understand the interaction between topographic structure, climate, and moisture availability in mountain basins of the western U.S. Application of topographically distributed models such as this will lead to improved water resource and watershed management.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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