Topography-Based Snowpack Extrapolation Over Utah Lake Watersheds Estimates Yearly Water Supply Trends

Location

Frist Theater

Seasonal snowpack melt is the primary source of fresh water for a significant part of the planet, and changes in the timing and volume of snowpack runoff would radically affect water availability in those places. In Utah, studies have detected trends of earlier melt times and significant reduction in snowpack volume, predicting that freshwater runoff will fail to meet current demands within 50 years. However, the data used to detect such trends come from individual weather station sites that are not necessarily representative of snow accumulation over a broader area, where topographical factors affect snowpack. I used GIS mapping and a multiple linear regression controlling for topography to integrate data from multiple weather station sites into a single projection of yearly snowpack across watershed areas in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. In contrast to previous studies, my model suggests no significant trend in snowpack over the past 25 years.