From the perspective of those who depend on snowpack melt runoff for water, snowpack monitoring is drought monitoring. A well-below-average snowpack, as measured by snow-water equivalent (SWE), indicates not only low water supply but also other drought impacts, such as increased fire risk and below-normal summer soil moisture. Thus, improving the use of snowpack monitoring data will help forecasters and water managers make more accurate predictions in regards to drought and flood conditions.

CWEST Participants: Jeff Deems, Noah Molotch, Jeff Lukas, Beth McNie, Tim Barbsley and Dominik Schneider

Snow Remote Sensing

NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory

View from NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO)

This workshop revealed the importance of remote snow monitoring capabilities to managers, forecasters and researchers. Noah Molotch (CWEST director) and Jeff Deems are snow hydrologists researching emerging applications of remote -sensing technologies for snowpack monitoring. Two of their efforts included NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) that measures snow depth at extremely high resolution (~500m) using LIDAR altimetry and a wide-area SWE reconstruction product based on1-km satellite imagery from the NASA MODIS sensor.


Workshop Collaborators

WWA Workshop Collaborators

WWA Workshop Collaborators

The CIRES Western Water Assessment (WWA) hosted three workshops intended to improve the usability of snowpack monitoring information in the Rocky Mountain West, with a view to enhancing that monitoring with new technologies. WWA is one of 11 RISA (Regional Integrated Science and Assessments) programs sponsored by the NOAA Climate Program Office. The workshops in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado were supported by NIDIS' “Coping with Drought” funding. Participants include local, state and federal water managers, along with other stakeholders, researchers and operational information providers. Key partners are NIDIS, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the NOAA Colorado Basin River Forecast Center (CBRFC).

WWA and its partners have been convening at workshops since 2004 to focus on improving the usability of snowpack monitoring information for runoff forecasting, drought early warning and planning, and other applications. Check out upcoming and past workshops for more information.