World Resource Review, 2003. Paper abstract bibtex
The knowledge of snow water resources is a major concern in high elevation basins where snowmelt streamflow can make a significant contribution to the total discharge. This information is especially useful for irrigation, hydropower and water supply management. In this paper, we present a system for snow water resources evaluation, based on satellite data, that generates three products; snow cover distribution with altitude, snowmelt runoff forecasts, and simulations of the expected future snowmelt seasons using the climate change scenarios indicated by international agencies. The new generation of satellites is providing scenes of the earth with increasing quality, more spectral bands, and better spatial resolution. To take advantage of these improvements, it has been necessary to solve new problems associated with the design of the new instruments, such as the so-called ¿Bowtie Effect¿ of the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument. The system developed is being currently applied to the upper Rio Grande Basin in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and to several basins in the Spanish Pyrenees. As an example, a 6-month, daily hydrograph was forecasted for the Upper Rio Grande at Del Norte, CO, for 2001 that was 14.4% different from the observed flow and had an R2=0.768. Furthermore, hydrographs were produced under conditions of changing climate progressively through the 21st century.