ESRL/PSD Seminar Series

Integrated remote sensing and modeling of mountain snow distribution: implications for water resource management adaptation to climate change

Noah Paul Molotch
Assistant Professor of Geography, INSTAAR, University of Colorado


In the western U.S., the mountain snowpack is the main source of the region's water, with downstream hydrologic processes and interactions with ecosystems controlled by processes at higher elevations. Changes in climate and rapid population growth drive the need for new understanding of the processes that control snow accumulation and melt. Over rugged terrain, snow distribution is highly variable in time and space, motivating studies that merge models with observations acquired at multiple scales (e.g. using intensive field campaigns and remote sensing). Example applications will be presented in which hyper-spectral and multi-spectral remotely sensed data are used to reconstruct the distribution of snow water equivalent in watersheds of the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. These high-resolution (i.e. ~ 100 m) snow estimates improve our understanding of the processes that control snow distribution and have implications for predicting hydrologic response to climate variability. In this regard, new initiatives to develop operational snowpack products will be discussed in the context of improving seasonal water supply forecasts as well as decadal scale projections from regional climate models.

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Wedbnesday, Dec 1

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