Adapting the iSNOBAL model for improved visualization in a GIS environment

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Wesley Joel Johansen and Donna Delparte, Idaho State University, Geosciences, Pocatello, ID, United States
Snowmelt is a primary means of crucial water resources in much of the western United States. Researchers are developing models that estimate snowmelt to aid in water resource management. One such model is the image snowcover energy and mass balance (iSNOBAL) model. It uses input climate grids to simulate the development and melting of snowpack in mountainous regions. This study looks at applying this model to the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in southwestern Idaho, utilizing novel approaches incorporating geographic information systems (GIS). To improve visualization of the iSNOBAL model, we have adapted it to run in a GIS environment. This type of environment is suited to both the input grid creation and the visualization of results. The data used for input grid creation can be stored locally or on a web-server. Kriging interpolation embedded within Python scripts are used to create air temperature, soil temperature, humidity, and precipitation grids, while built-in GIS and existing tools are used to create solar radiation and wind grids. Additional Python scripting is then used to perform model calculations. The final product is a user-friendly and accessible version of the iSNOBAL model, including the ability to easily visualize and interact with model results, all within a web- or desktop-based GIS environment. This environment allows for interactive manipulation of model parameters and visualization of the resulting input grids for the model calculations. Future work is moving towards adapting the model further for use in a 3D gaming engine for improved visualization and interaction.