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A western United States snow reanalysis dataset over the Landsat era from water years 1985 to 2021

Yiwen Fang, Yufei Liu, Steven A. Margulis | November 7th, 2022

Water stored in mountain snowpacks (i.e., snow water equivalent, SWE) represents an important but poorly characterized component of the terrestrial water cycle. The Western United States snow reanalysis (WUS–SR) dataset is novel in its combination of spatial resolution (~500 m), spatial extent (31°–49° N; 102°–125° W), and temporal continuity (daily over 1985–2021). WUS–SR is generated using a Bayesian framework with model-based snow estimates updated through the assimilation of cloud-free Landsat fractional snow-covered area observations. Over the WUS, the peak SWE verification with independent in situ measurements show correlation coefficient, mean difference (MD), and root mean squared difference (RMSD) of 0.77, −0.15 m, and 0.28 m, respectively. The effects of forest cover and Landsat image availability on peak SWE are assessed. WUS–SR peak SWE is well correlated (ranging from 0.75 to 0.91) against independent lidar-derived SWE taken near April 1st, with MD <0.15 m and RMSD <0.38 m. The dataset is useful for characterizing WUS mountain snow storage, and ultimately for improving snow-derived water resources management.


Colorado River, monitoring, planning and management, snowpack, upper watershed management, water supply