Snow in complex terrain is highly variable, so distributed modeling is essential for proper representations of snow and streamflow. However, distributed model development has been hampered by a lack of spatial measurements. Remote-sensing (using both space-borne and air-borne instruments) provides critical spatial measurements, but to definitively identify the “best” model configuration, multiple measurements are needed at different times \ of year and at different spatial scales (see figure above).

We are teaming with NASA JPL's Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) and with Dr. Chris Chickadel at the UW Applied Physics Lab (APL) to determine the best way to integrate distributed snow depth and snow surface temperature measurements into distributed snow modeling. ASO snow depth measurements are available approximately monthly since 2013, and we flew our first infrared measurements in February 2016 (see movie above). We are working on using these high resolution measurements to better utilize coarser-scale measurements from satellites, such as MODIS.

Material contained here and within the embedded links is based upon work supported by NASA under Grant No. NNX15AB29G. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring agency (NASA).
Movie of warming morning infrared temperatures over Dana Meadows (top) and Kuna Crest (bottom left) for 7 February 201: Temperatures range from -15 C (dark purple) to above 0 C (bright yellow)