Deriving snow-cover depletion curves for different spatial scales from remote sensing and snow telemetry data

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Abstract

During the melting of a snowpack, snow water equivalent (SWE) can be correlated to snow-covered area (SCA) once snow-free areas appear, which is when SCA begins to decrease below 100%. This amount of SWE is called the threshold SWE. Daily SWE data from snow telemetry stations were related to SCA derived from moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer images to produce snow-cover depletion curves. The snow depletion curves were created for an 80 000 km2 domain across southern Wyoming and northern Colorado encompassing 54 snow telemetry stations. Eight yearly snow depletion curves were compared, and it is shown that the slope of each is a function of the amount of snow received. Snow-cover depletion curves were also derived for all the individual stations, for which the threshold SWE could be estimated from peak SWE and the topography around each station. A station's peak SWE was much more important than the main topographic variables that included location, elevation, slope, and modelled clear sky solar radiation. The threshold SWE mostly illustrated inter-annual consistency. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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