We illustrate the ability to monitor the status of snowpack over large areas by using a~spatially distributed snow accumulation and ablation model in the Upper Colorado Basin. The model was forced with precipitation fields from the National Weather Service (NWS) Multi-sensor Precipitation Estimator (MPE) and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) datasets; remaining meteorological model input data was from NOAA's Global Forecast System (GFS) model output fields. The simulated snow water equivalent (SWE) was compared to SWEs from the Snow Data Assimilation System (SNODAS) and SNOwpack TELemetry system (SNOTEL) over a~region of the Western United States that covers parts of the Upper Colorado Basin. We also compared the SWE product estimated from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) and Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer (SMMR) to the SNODAS and SNOTEL SWE datasets. Agreement between the spatial distribution of the simulated SWE with both SNODAS and SNOTEL was high for the two model runs for the entire snow accumulation period. Model-simulated SWEs, both with MPE and TRMM, were significantly correlated spatially on average with the SNODAS (r = 0.81 and r = 0.54; d.f. = 543) and the SNOTEL SWE (r = 0.85 and r = 0.55; d.f. = 543), when monthly basinwide simulated average SWE the correlation was also highly significant (r = 0.95 and r = 0.73; d.f. = 12). The SWE estimated from the passive microwave imagery was not correlated either with the SNODAS SWE or (r = 0.14, d.f. = 7) SNOTEL-reported SWE values (r = 0.08, d.f. = 7). The agreement between modeled SWE and the SWE recorded by SNODAS and SNOTEL weakened during the snowmelt period due to an underestimation bias of the air temperature that was used as model input forcing.
Additional publication details
Large scale snow water status monitoring: comparison of different snow water products in the upper Colorado basins
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
European Geosciences Union
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center