Water storage in mountain basins from satellite snow cover monitoring

TitleWater storage in mountain basins from satellite snow cover monitoring
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsRango A., Martinec J.
JournalRemote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems for Design and Operation of Water Resources Systems
Start Page83
Date Published04/1997

The average areal water equivalent of the seasonal snow cover on 1 April in the basin of the Rio Grande at Del Norte, Colorado (3419 km3, 2432-4215 m a.s.l.) is evaluated from periodical snow cover mapping by Landsat. A dry, near-average and wet hydrological year are examined. Snow reserves in terms of water storage volumes are computed in three elevation zones for actual temperatures and for a projected climate change of +4°C. The decrease of snow accumulation in a warmer climate results in a significant increase of the winter runoff and a corresponding decrease of the summer runoff. The computed winter/summer proportions change from 24/76% to 29/71% in dry year 1977, from 13/87% to 28/72% in the average year 1976, and from 7.5/92.5% to 12/88% the wet year 1979. An assessment of the seasonal recession from winter to summer reveals that the actual climate effect is even greater.