120 180 Julian days

Figure 5.8 Depletion of snow covered area (SCA) in Satluj basin under different climatic scenarios for 1988

Basin Balance Scale

Increase in mean temperature (°C) Figure 5.9 Increase in melting area with increase in mean temperature over the melt period in the Satluj basin for different years practices and is used by water resources managers for various hydrological applications. Primarily, the application of SCA is made for the assessment of snow reserve, modeling of snow melt runoff, flood forecasting, effect of climate change on hydrology, and water balance studies of snowfed rivers. The emphasis of this study is on the snow melt runoff computation from a basin using SCA data on daily time scale. For large and inaccessible basins, like the Himalayan basins, SCA is a very important information for snow melt modeling studies. At the same time, procurement of satellite images on a daily basis becomes very expensive. Higher resolution data for large basins further increases number of images to be used to cover the basin, and data cost also increases proportionally. Analysis of large number of images also takes much time. Under some unavoidable atmospheric conditions like presence of cloud cover, reliable information on SCA is not available. Thus, because of various reasons, satellite data are obtained for a few dates during the melt period and discontinuity in database persists. In this study, a methodology that can be used to interpolate, extrapolate, and/or fill the missing data of SCA is evolved.

A combination of extent of SCA available in the basin just before start of melting and temperature distribution over the ablation season governs the depletion of SCA. Because of changes in these parameters, a different equation is obtained for every season. In this paper, relationship between SCA and CDD has been studied for the Satluj basin (22,305 km2) located in the Western Himalayan region. It is found that during the ablation season (March-August) SCA depletes exponentially with CDD observed at a station near the SCA. Three years data were used for studying the relationship between SCA and CDD, and similar relationship was observed for all the seasons, confirming that the depletion of SCA is strongly related to CDD. The value of R2 obtained was above 0.98 for the three years.

The established equations can be used to interpolate/extrapolate SCA data or extending time series of SCA using CDD data. This study also demonstrates, using limited information of SCA in the beginning and middle part of the season, a good application of the established relationship in simulating the SCA for the basin. It is observed that once the depletion trend is established in the basin in the first part of melt season, SCA can be simulated with good accuracy using CDD data for the rest of the melt season. Such applications can reduce the number of required satellite images for obtaining SCA. The variation in extent of SCA with time can also be forecasted using forecasted air temperatures.

On the basis of three years' analysis, an increase in temperature by 1,2, and 3°C enhanced the melting area of snow over the melt season by 2.7, 5.1, and 7.2%, respectively. For the considered range of temperature increase (1-3°C), it was found that melting area of snow in the basin increased linearly with increase in temperature.


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