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Capturing the onset of mountain snowmelt runoff using satellite synthetic aperture radar

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Author(s): Eric Gagilano, David E. Shean, Scott Henderson, Seth Vanderwilt

Document Type:
Publisher: AGU Geophysical Research Letters
Published Year: 2023
Volume: 50
Number: 21
Pages: 10
DOI Identifier: 10.1029/2023GL105303
ISBN Identifier:

The timing of snowmelt runoff is critical for water resource applications, but its spatiotemporal evolution remains poorly understood. We present a scalable approach to map snowmelt runoff onset using Sentinel-1 synthetic aperture radar data for the past 8 years with 10 m spatial resolution and a median temporal resolution of 3.9 days. A systematic analysis of stratovolcanoes in the Western United States showed that snowmelt runoff onset is strongly dependent on elevation (r = 0.81), with a median runoff onset lapse rate of 4.9 days per 100 m of elevation gain. During the 2015 snow drought, we observed snowmelt runoff onset 25 days early relative to the 2015–2022 median. We document a median shift in snowmelt runoff onset of +2.0 days later in the year per year between 2016 and 2022. Our open-source tools can be used to create snowmelt runoff onset maps anywhere on Earth.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Gagilano and others (2023) or (Gagilano et al., 2023)

References Citation:
Gagilano, E., D.E. Shean, S. Henderson, and S. Vanderwilt, 2023, Capturing the onset of mountain snowmelt runoff using satellite synthetic aperture radar: AGU Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 50, No. 21, 10 p., doi: 10.1029/2023GL105303.