Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2008NV138B

Estimation of Spatio-Temporal Statistics of Precipitation and Snow-Water Equivalent in the Truckee River Watershed

Institute: Nevada
Year Established: 2008 Start Date: 2008-03-01 End Date: 2010-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $34,177 Total Non-Federal Funds: $68,699

Principal Investigators: Rina Schumer, Anna Knust

Abstract: Precipitation-runoff models are used in the Truckee River watershed and other regions of Nevada to support river and reservoir operations. Physically based runoff models are used to estimate water yield based on the accumulation and depletion of snowpack and various water distribution processes (e.g. infiltration, runoff), subject to an energy balance and a water balance. Results are used to forecast the timing and volume of seasonal water supply as well as the effects of climate variability and land use change. The spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation and snow-water equivalent (SWE) are used in the calibration of precipitation-runoff models, yet our knowledge of these variables is highly uncertain because 1) field measurements of SWE and precipitation are sparse and 2) both SWE and precipitation are sensitive to physiographic factors such as elevation and aspect. In this study, we will compile and analyze a previously undocumented dataset that includes up to 30 years of precipitation and SWE measurements recorded at 29 sites in the Truckee River watershed. The inclusion of this dataset with measurements from established monitoring stations in the watershed, will more than double the spatial sampling resolution, and the combined datasets can be used to 1) estimate temporal and spatial statistics of precipitation and SWE in the Truckee River watershed, 2) improve calibration of precipitation-runoff models in the watershed sub-basins, and 3) test independent models (e.g. SNODAS, PRISM) designed to estimate the distribution of precipitation and SWE.