Estimating snow distribution over a large area and its application for water resources

So Kazama, Hirokazu Izumi, Priyantha Ranjan Sarukkalige, Takayuki Nasu, Masaki Sawamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The spatial and temporal distribution of the snow water equivalent (SWE), snow density and snow depth were estimated by a method combining remote sensing technology and degree-day techniques over a study area of 370 000 km2. The advantages of this simulation model are its simplicity and the availability of degree-day parameters, which can be successively evaluated by referring to snow area maps created from satellite images. This simulation worked very well for estimating SWE and helped to separate the areas of thin snow cover from heavier snowfall. However, shallow snow in warm regions led to some misjudgments in the snow area maps because of the time lag between when the satellite image was acquired and the simulation itself. Vulnerable areas, where a large variation in the amount of snow affects people's life, could be identified from the differences between heavy and light snow years. This vulnerability stems from a predicted lack of irrigation water for rice production caused by future climate change. The model developed in this study has the potential to contribute to water management activities and decision-making processes when considering necessary adaptations to future climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2315-2324
Number of pages10
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun 30


  • Degree-day method
  • Snow water equivalent
  • Water resources


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