Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016CO326B

Comparing fine scale snow depth measurements at rocky and flat surfaces using lidar and photogrammetry derived digital elevation models

Institute: Colorado
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $4,891 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,446

Principal Investigators: Steven Fassnacht

Abstract: Snow dominated watersheds rely on coarse resolution measurements to model and predict annual water yields for agricultural and municipal use. Fine resolution data about snow’s extent, depth, and density are difficult to obtain using currently available technology. Recent efforts using photogrammetry in Alaska (Nolan et al., 2015) have shown promise in providing results similar to those produced using lidar techniques. Current aerial and terrestrial lidar products require equipment and practices that are an expensive investment and may not used with enough frequency to justify their purchase. Photogrammetry can substantially reduce the cost of equipment and data acquisition and are capable of being implemented with greater frequency. This study endeavors to quantify vertical error associated with photogrammetric methods by comparing terrestrial lidar scanned surfaces to those generated with commercial off-the-shelf photographic equipment and processing software. The overall effect of this study is to describe techniques for use at the operational management level that may refine products used to estimate snow coverage across large spatial domains.