Use of Snow Data From Remote Sensing in Operational Streamflow Prediction

TitleUse of Snow Data From Remote Sensing in Operational Streamflow Prediction
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2014
AuthorsBender, Stacie, Miller Paul, Bernard Brent, and Lhotak John
Conference Name82nd Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the Western Snow Conference
Date Published2014
Conference LocationDurango, Colorado
Keywordsoperational hydrology, remote sensing, snow observations, snowmelt forecasting, Streamflow forecasting

The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC) issues operational forecasts of streamflow for the Colorado River Basin and eastern Great Basin. As part of a multi-year collaborative effort, CBRFC has partnered with the research-oriented Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under funding from NASA to incorporate remotely sensed snow data from NASA’s MODIS instrument into operational hydrologic forecasting and modeling at CBRFC. Snowpackconditions indicated by MODIS informCBRFC forecasters when determining causes of divergence between modeled and recently observed streamflow. The first two years of the collaborative partnership have yielded improved forecasts at select locations, in select cases, using information from remotely sensed snow data. CBRFC and JPL also retrospectively analyzed relationships between the MODIS-derived snow datasets and streamflow patterns for several watersheds within CBRFC region. The collaboration is expected to continue over the next several years as CBRFC and JPL work to further improve modeling of snowmelt and prediction of snowmelt-driven streamflow in operational hydrologic forecasting.