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Description: It is critical to accurately model the timing and magnitude of snowmelt in the Colorado River Basin, where melt of the seasonal mountain snowpack dominates regional hydrology, populations are increasing, and snow melt patterns are shifting. This project addresses the limitations of temperature index modeling in the Colorado River Basin by developing the capacity at the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center (CBRFC) to run a spatially distributed snow energy balance model to support operational decision making. The ability to run any physically based model over snow dominated headwaters is currently limited by the lack of energy balance information from in-situ observation networks. We are addressing the data limitation by assimilating remote sensing imagery to inform net radiation and an atmospheric model to inform meteorological variables. The project, a joint effort between the CBRFC, USDA ARS Northwest Watershed Research Center, and University of Utah Snow Hydrology Group, will produce realistic maps of snow covered area, snow water equivalent, and streamflow.


End-users/Partners: Colorado River Basin Forecast Center, USDA-ARS Northwest Watershed Research Center


Data Sources/Models: MODIS/VIIRS, GOES, Airborne Snow Observatory, High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model, Automated Water Supply Model (AWSM)/Spatial Modeling for Resources Framework (SMRF)