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Water 2017, 9(11), 848; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9110848

On the Direct Calculation of Snow Water Balances Using Snow Cover Information

1
European Commission DG JRC, Directorate D Sustainable Resources. Via E.Fermi, 2749–21027 Ispra (VA), Italy
2
GECOsistema srl, viale G.Carducci, 15, I-47023 Cesena (FC). R&D Unit Suedtirol. Via Maso della Pieve/Pfarrhofstr., 60A–39100 Bolzano/Bozen, Italy
3
EURAC Research, Institute for Applied Remote Sensing; viale Druso, 1–39100 Bolzano, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 April 2017 / Revised: 24 October 2017 / Accepted: 24 October 2017 / Published: 2 November 2017
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Abstract

We present a novel method for the direct determination of the snowmelt coefficient of widely used degree-day models, using only cumulated temperature and precipitation over the days of snow cover. We develop a proof of concept using (1) local measurements of precipitation, temperature and snow water equivalent (SWE) at a set of well-monitored sites in the US, and (2) available time series of snow cover from satellite and gridded daily precipitation and daily average temperature for the study region of South Tyrol, in the Italian Alps. We demonstrate how the method can reproduce the snow water balance to an acceptable extent, critically depending on the accuracy of input precipitation and temperature, highlighting the importance of a reliable representation of weather forcing if the estimate has to be robust and representative. Although not always accurate at a point, our approach yields a SWE reasonably consistent with observations, and snowmelt flows compatible with measured streamflow. At the same time, the model allows an interpretation of discrepancies between observations and simulations to detect inconsistencies between snow cover and weather forcing. This method is in principle applicable for large-scale hydrological assessments thanks to the increasing global coverage of snow cover, precipitation and temperature data. As the only other type of observation available to calibrate models is often streamflow, the direct calibration of the snow component of a model using snow cover and weather forcing reduces the number of model processes and parameters to be calibrated with streamflow, and is expected to increase model robustness. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow water equivalent; snow cover; regional water resources assessment; snowmelt coefficient; degree-day method snow water equivalent; snow cover; regional water resources assessment; snowmelt coefficient; degree-day method
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Pistocchi, A.; Bagli, S.; Callegari, M.; Notarnicola, C.; Mazzoli, P. On the Direct Calculation of Snow Water Balances Using Snow Cover Information. Water 2017, 9, 848.

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