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Karina Zikan Dissertation Proposal

May 3 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm MDT

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Title: Expanding the capabilities of Satellite LiDAR for snow monitoring in temperate mountains

Abstract: Seasonal snow is a critical fresh water resource around the world. As snow distribution is highly variable and sensitive to climate perturbations it is important to expand our ability to observe seasonal snow distribution for watershed management and hazard mitigation. Quantification of seasonal snow depth, density, and snow water equivalent is an ongoing challenge for snow research and modeling. Satellite remote sensing is required to produce maps of snow depth with fine enough temporal resolution and large enough spatial scale to meet regional snow observation needs in our changing climate. Remotely-sensed snow depths are especially important in steep and remote terrain with currently little to no snow depth observations, as these types of regions dominate mountain watersheds and strongly influence water resources.

The proposed work will develop algorithms to generate watershed-scale snow depth estimates in mountain regions using NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite Lidar data and will validate these estimates using aerial Lidar surveys and in-situ measurements at four alpine study sites in Central Idaho, Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Dry Creek Experimental Watershed, Mores Creek Summit, and Banner Summit. The project build on preliminary ICESat-2 snow depth algorithms by developing spatial extrapolation approaches to generate watershed-scale snow depth estimates in mountain regions from ICESat-2 data, collect field in-situ and aerial Lidar data sets to validate and quantify uncertainties, and test the performance of the spatial predictive model. The end objective of this work is to operationalize a workflow to generate watershed-scale snow depth and volume estimates parameterized by terrain features from a snow-on ICESat-2 transect over a snow-free watershed digital terrain model. This work will help fill temporal and spatial gaps in snow observation across remote temperate mountainous regions, in turn expanding knowledge of mountainous snow behavior, improving snowpack estimates for water resource management, and providing new data for snow and climate modeling.

Advisor: Ellyn Enderlin

Committee Members: HP Marshall, Nancy Glenn, Shad O’Neel

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