Assessing the Representativeness of the NRCS SNOTEL System at a Basin-Wide Scale

TitleAssessing the Representativeness of the NRCS SNOTEL System at a Basin-Wide Scale
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2008
AuthorsNolin, A. W., and Brown A.
Conference Name76th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 76th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 2008
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationHood River, OR
KeywordsNRCS, SNOTEL, basin scale, Willamette Basin, climate change

Information from the NRCS SNOTEL system is used throughout the West for streamflow forecasting, disaster preparedness and scientific research. Measurements taken from the network are often fed into climate models where they can be used to analyze patterns and illustrate changes. Within the Willamette Basin the majority of the network falls within mid range elevations of 1000-1500 meters. While there are few sites located below 1000 meters, there is no instrumentation above 1500 meters. The upper elevations make up a relatively small proportion of the entire basin, however, they do account for about 50 percent of the total snow covered area. Projected climate warming in the Pacific Northwest places an increased importance on accurate instrumentation and forecasting of snow covered areas. An analysis of the relationship between at-risk snow zones and the location of SNOTEL sites illustrates the need for the development of a methodology to insure the representativeness of the system.