Developing a hydrological model in the absence of field data

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Eric A Sproles1,2, Cristian Orrego Nelson1, Tim Kerr1 and David Lopez Aspe1, (1)Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas, La Serena, Chile, (2)Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States
We present two runoff models that use remotely-sensed snow cover products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) as the first order hydrologic input. These simplistic models are the first step in developing an operational model for the Elqui River watershed located in northern Central Chile (30°S). In this semi-arid region, snow and glacier melt are the dominant hydrologic inputs where annual precipitation is limited to three or four winter events. Unfortunately winter access to the Andean Cordillera where snow accumulates is limited. While a monitoring network to measure snow where it accumulates in the upper elevations is under development, management decisions regarding water resources cannot wait. The two models we present differ in structure. The first applies a Monte Carlo approach to determine relationships between lagged changes in monthly snow cover frequency and monthly discharge. The second is a modified degree-day melt model, utilizing the MODIS snow cover product to determine where and when snow melt occurs. These models are not watershed specific and are applicable in other regions where snow dominates hydrologic inputs, but measurements are minimal.