Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020UT301B

Leveraging LIDAR and Citizen-Science for Low-Cost, High-Resolution Snow-Depth Estimation

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $30,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $70,166

Principal Investigators: Carlos A. Oroza

Abstract: Seasonal snowpack is a critical water resource, supplying the majority of freshwater for more than a billion people globally and more than 95% of the water in the state of Utah. Accurate, high-resolution monitoring of watershed-scale snow is critical for water supply forecasts but is hampered by sparse observation networks. This proposal will potentially transform how spatial snow depth is estimated by integrating existing LIDAR terrain attributes with citizen-science snow-depth data to produce highly resolved measures of snow depth at the watershed-scale. Our approach leverages current LIDAR terrain data and volunteer citizen science efforts, significantly reducing the cost and increasing the frequency of basin-scale snow-depth estimates. The funds requested will enable multiple snow-on LIDAR flights focused on the Franklin sub-basin (27 square mile area). The accuracy of the proposed methodology will be validated with the snow-on LIDAR ground truth.