Snow hydrology of an alpine basin in the Sierra Nevada

TitleSnow hydrology of an alpine basin in the Sierra Nevada
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1990
AuthorsKattelmann, R. C.
Conference Name58th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 58th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1990
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationSacramento, California
KeywordsAlpine hydrology, Sierra Nevada, Snow hydrology, Snowmelt

Hydrologic and meteorologic observations at Emerald Lake in Sequoia National Park over a five-year period provide the first detailed description of the snow hydrology of an alpine basin in the Sierra Nevada. More than 95 percent of all precipitation was in the form of snow. Prolonged periods between storms permit sublimation losses to exceed 20 cm per winter, but little or no melt occurs during the winter in basins with northern exposure. Seasonal snow storage prior to spring melt ranged from 60 to 200 cm water equivalence. Average basin-wide snowmelt was about 1 to 1.5 cm per day in April and May and up to 3 cm per day in June and July. Peak snowmelt runoff exceeded 0.75 cm per day on at least 20 days per year. Instantaneous discharges rarely exceeded 0.5 cu m/sec/ More than 75 percent of the peak snowpack water equivalence and spring precipition became streamflow.