Articles | Volume 15, issue 7
14 Jul 2011
 | 14 Jul 2011

Simulation of snow distribution and melt under cloudy conditions in an Alpine watershed

H.-Y. Li and J. Wang

Abstract. An energy balance method and remote-sensing data were used to simulate snow distribution and melt in an alpine watershed in northwestern China within a complete snow accumulation-melt period. The spatial energy budgets were simulated using meteorological observations and a digital elevation model of the watershed. A linear interpolation method was used to estimate the daily snow cover area under cloudy conditions, using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. Hourly snow distribution and melt, snow cover extent and daily discharge were included in the simulated results. The root mean square error between the measured snow-water equivalent samplings and the simulated results is 3.2 cm. The Nash and Sutcliffe efficiency statistic (NSE) between the measured and simulated discharges is 0.673, and the volume difference (Dv) is 3.9 %. Using the method introduced in this article, modelling spatial snow distribution and melt runoff will become relatively convenient.