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Observed April 1 snowpack accumulations within and near the Gunnison River basin in southwestern Colorado are compared with stimulations from the Rhea-orographic-precipitation model to determine if the model simulates reliable magnitudes and temporal and spatial variability in winter precipitation for the basin. Twenty stimulations of the Rhea model were performed using 'optimal' parameter sets determined for 10-kilometer (km) grids (10-km by 10-km grid cells) through stochastic calibration. Comparisons of Rhea-model simulations of winter precipitation with April 1 snowpack accumulations at 32 snowcourse stations were performed for the years 1972-1990. For most stations and most years the Rhea model reliably simulates the temporal and spatial variability in April 1 snowpack accumulations. However, in general, the Rhea-model underestimates April 1 snowpack accumulations in the Gunnison River basin area, and the underestimation is greatest for locations that receive the largest amount of snow. A significant portion of the error in Rhea-model simulations is due to the calibration of the Rhea model using gauge-catch precipitation measurements which can be as much as 50 percent below actual snowfall accumulation. Additional error in the Rhea-model simulations is a result of the comparison of gridded precipitation values to observed values measured at points.
Additional Publication Details
Verification of the Rhea-orographic-precipitation model
Journal of the American Water Resources Association