Scale effects in a distributed SWE and snowmelt model for mountain basins

TitleScale effects in a distributed SWE and snowmelt model for mountain basins
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1997
AuthorsCline, D., Elder K., and Bales R.
Conference Name65th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 65th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedMay 1997
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationBanff, Alberta
KeywordsDEM, Modeling, Satellite, SNODIS

We present results of an investigation into the effect of increasing spatial and temporal resolutions on modeled distributions of SWE and snowmelt in the Emerald Lake Watershed of the Sierra Nevada of California, U.S.A. We used a coupled remote sensing/distributed energy balance snowmelt model (SNODIS), and used previously validated results from a high spatial (30-m) and temporal (hourly) resolution model run in ELW as a control. We selected spatial resolutions that are commensurate with standard product DEMs or with existing or planned satellite remote sensing data, and temporal resolutions that are factorsof typical operational intervals for meteorological data. We degraded the spatial resolution of the DEM from 30 m to 90, 250, and 500 m prior to computing the distributed micrometeorological data. We degraded the classified remote sensing data to the same spatial resolutions prior to computing the duration of the snow cover. Similarly, we degraded the temporal resolution of the micrometeorological data from 1 hour to 3 and 6 hours prior to computing the distributed energy balance and snowmelt. We compared mean basin SWE, basin snowpack water volume, and the spatial patterns of SWE from each test to our previous, high-resolution results. We found no significant differences between the mean basin-wide SWE computed from the 250-m and 500-m spatial resolutions and that of our high-resolution control, regardless of temporal resolution. At each temporal resolution mean basin SWE was over-estimated at the 90-m resolution by 14-17%. Coarsening of the spatial resolution did result in a loss of explicit information regarding the location of SWE in the basin, as expected. We discuss these results in terms of their implications for applying the SNODIS model to larger regions