Snow satellite images for calibration of snow dynamic in a continuous distributed hydrological model
The snow accumulation and melt processes are well known to play an important role on the river flow regime, in particular this is enhanced for basin with complex topography where the snow dynamic is strongly affected by hillslope exposition. This paper presents a simplified numerical model for snow dynamic simulation based on air temperature thresholds that rule the snow melt and accumulation processes implemented into a continuous distributed hydrological model for hydrograph simulations at basin scale. The possibility to calibrate these temperature thresholds from snow cover maps derived from NOAA satellite images is discussed. Snow covered pixels are classified according to a procedure based on aspect and elevation of each pixel, that allows to identify snow covered pixels also in shadowed areas. Snow model performance is proved at local and basin scale. The former shows a good agreement between modelled snow dynamic and observed snow height data at the Antrona station in the Toce basin; the latter shows agreement between observed and simulated hydrographs for the three gauge stations of Toce, Ticino and Maggia rivers.