Combining ground-based and remotely sensed snow data in a linear regression model for real-time estimation of snow water equivalent
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Combining ground-based and remotely sensed snow data in a linear regression model for real-time estimation of snow water equivalent

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  • Journal Title:
    Advances in Water Resources
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    Effective water resources management in California relies substantially on real-time information of snow water equivalent (SWE) at basin scale and mountain ranges given that mountain snowpacks provide the primary water supply for the State. However, SWE estimation based solely on remote sensing, modeling, or ground observations does not meet contemporary operational requirements. In this context, this study develops a data-fusion framework that combines multi-source datasets including satellite-observed daily mean fractional snow-covered area (DMFSCA), snow pillow SWE measurements, physiographic data, and historical SWE patterns into a linear regression model (LRM) to improve SWE estimates in real-time. We test two LRMs: a baseline regression model (LRM-baseline) that uses physiographic data and historical SWE patterns as independent variables, and an FSCA-informed regression model (LRM-FSCA) that includes the DMFSCA from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite imagery as an additional independent variable. By incorporating the satellite-observed DMFSCA, LRM-FSCA outperforms LRM-baseline with increased median R2 from 0.54 to 0.60, and reduced median PBIAS of basin average SWE from 2.6% to 2.2% in the snow pillow SWE cross-validation. LRM-FSCA explains 87% of the variance in the snow course SWE measurements with 0.1% PBIAS, while LRM-baseline explains a lower 81% variance with 1.4% PBIAS, both of which show higher accuracy than SWE estimates from the two operational SWE datasets: the Snow Data Assimilation System (SNODAS, 73% and -2.4%, respectively) and Nationtional Water Model (NWM, 75% and -15.9%, respectively). Additionally, LRM-FSCA explains 85% of the median variance in the Airborne Snow Observatory SWE with -9.2% PBIAS, which is comparable to the LRM-baseline (86% and -11.3%, respectively) and considerably better than SNODAS (64% and 28.2%, respectively) and NWM (33% and -30.1%, respectively). This study shows a substantial model improvement by constraining the geographical and seasonal variation on snow-cover via satellite observation and highlights the values of using multi-source observations in real-time SWE estimation. The developed SWE estimation framework has crucial implications for effective water supply forecasting and management in California, where climate extremes (e.g., droughts and floods) require particularly skillful monitoring practices.
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    Advances in Water Resources, 160, 104075
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    CC BY
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