Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-357
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
20 Sep 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Snow cover dynamics in Andean watersheds of Chile (32.0–39.5° S) during the years 2000–2013
Alejandra Stehr1,2,3 and Mauricio Aguayo1,2 1Centre for Environmental Sciences EULA-CHILE, University of Concepción, Concepción, Chile
2Faculty of Environmental Sc iences, University of Concepción, Concepción, Chile
3CRHIAM, University of Concepción, Concepción, Chile
Abstract. Andean watersheds present important snowfall accumulation mainly during the winter which is later melted during spring and part of the summer. The effect of snowmelt on the water balance can be critical to sustain agriculture activities, hydropower generation, urban water supply and wildlife. In Chile 25 % of the territory between the Valparaiso and Araucanía Regions comprise areas where snow precipitation occurs. As in many other difficult-to-access regions of the world, in the Chilean Andes there is a lack of hydrological data like discharge, snow courses, snow depths, which complicate the analysis of important hydrological processes (e.g. water availability). Remote sensing provides a promising opportunity to enhance the assessment and monitoring of the spatial and temporal variability of snow characteristics, like Snow Cover Area (SCA) and Snow Cover Dynamic (SCD). In the above mentioned context the objectives of this study are to evaluate the suitability of MOD10A2 to estimate SCA and to assess SCD at five watersheds (Aconcagua, Rapel, Maule, Biobío and Toltén) located in the Chilean Andes, between latitude 32.0º S and 39.5º S. Those watershed were chosen because their importance in terms of number of inhabitants, and dependence of economic activities on water resources. SCA area was obtained from MOD10A2 for the period 2000–2013 and SCD was analysed through a number of statistical tests to explore observed trends. Prior of obtaining SCA for trend analysis, a validation of MOD10A2 product was done; comparing presence of snow predicted by MODIS with ground observations. Results indicate that there is an overall agreement from 81 to 98 % between SCA-determined from ground observations, and MOD10A2, showing that MODIS snow product can be taken as a feasible remote sensing tool for SCA estimation in South-Central Chile. Regarding SCD no significant reduction in SCA area for 2000–2013 was detected, with the exception of the Aconcagua and Rapel watersheds, although an important decline in SCA for the period of 2012 and 2013 was also evident, which is coincident with the rainfall deficit for the same years. Findings were compared against ENSO episodes occurring during 2010–2013, detecting that Niña years are coincident with maximum SCA during winter in all watersheds.

Citation: Stehr, A. and Aguayo, M.: Snow cover dynamics in Andean watersheds of Chile (32.0–39.5° S) during the years 2000–2013, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-357, in review, 2016.
Alejandra Stehr and Mauricio Aguayo
Alejandra Stehr and Mauricio Aguayo
Alejandra Stehr and Mauricio Aguayo

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Short summary
In Chile there is lack of hydrological data which complicate the analysis of important hydrological processes. In this study we have validate a remote sensing product, i.e. MODIS snow product in Chile using ground observations, obtaining good results. Then MODIS was use to evaluated snowcover dynamic during 2000–2013 at five watersheds located in Chile. The analysis shows that there is a significant reduction in snowcover area in two watersheds located at at the northern part of the study area.
In Chile there is lack of hydrological data which complicate the analysis of important...
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