Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-689
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
09 Jan 2017
Review status
This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.
Sub catchment Assessment of snowpack and snowmelt change by analyzing elevation bands and parameter sensitivity in the high Himalayas
Vishal Singh1, Manish Kumar Goyal1, Rao Y. Surampalli2, and Francisco Munoz-Arriola3,4 1Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati – 781039, India
2Global Institute for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, P.O. Box 14354, Lenexa, Kansas 66285, USA
3Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA
4School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, USA
Abstract. The present work proposes to improve estimates of how much streamflow is generated by snow in the watersheds of the steep Himalayas. Half of the earth’s glacial catchments in nonpolar areas are in the Himalayas, and they generate almost a third of the streamflows in India. In River catchments with glacier presence in the region, temporal variability in streamflow generation and the associated distribution of accumulated snow illustrate how changes in snowmelt and precipitation can affect water supplies to a growing population of 1.3 billion people. Estimations of snowpack and snowmelt in watersheds are critical for understanding streamflow generation and sources of catchments. However, estimating precipitation and snow accumulation is constrained by the difficulties complex terrain poses to data collection. The primary objective of this study is to assess the role of elevations in the computation of snowfall (snowpack) and snowmelt in sub-catchments. The study area is the Satluj River Catchment (up to Kasol gauge) with moderate (e.g., 526 m) to very high elevations (e.g., 7429 m) dominated by snow covers and glaciers. The Satluj River Catchment was divided into 14 sub-catchments. Snowpack and snowmelt variations in the sub-catchments in both historical and projected near-term (2011–2130) periods were analyzed using observed and Global Circulation Model (GCM) data sets. Both hydrological scenarios used elevation bands and parameter-sensitivity analyses built in the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. For model calibration/validation and parameter sensitivity analysis, an advanced optimization method — namely, Sequential Uncertainty Fitting (SUFI2) approach was used with multiple hydrological parameters. Among all parameters, the curve number (CN2) was found significantly sensitive for computations. The snowmelt hydrological parameters such as snowmelt factor maximum (SMFMX) and snow coverage (SNO50COV) significantly affected objective functions such as R2 and NSE during the model optimization process. The computed snowpack and snowmelt were found highly variable over the Himalayan sub-catchments as also reported by previous researchers in other regions. The magnitude of snowpack change consistently decreases across all the sub-catchments of the Satluj River Catchment (varying between 4 % and 42 %). The highest percentage of changes in snowpack was observed over high-elevation subcatchments.

Citation: Singh, V., Kumar Goyal, M., Surampalli, R. Y., and Munoz-Arriola, F.: Sub catchment Assessment of snowpack and snowmelt change by analyzing elevation bands and parameter sensitivity in the high Himalayas, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-689, 2017.
Vishal Singh et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version      Supplement - Supplement
 
RC1: 'Review of HESS-2016-689', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Jan 2017 Printer-friendly Version 
 
RC2: 'review', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Feb 2017 Printer-friendly Version 
 
AC1: 'Final Author Comments', Francisco Munoz-Arriola, 04 May 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
Vishal Singh et al.
Vishal Singh et al.

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Short summary
Glacier presence in the Satluj River influence temporal changes in streamflow generation and the distribution of accumulated snow illustrate how snowmelt and precipitation can define water supplies for more than 1.3 billion People. The objective is to assess the role of elevations in the computation of snowfall (snowpack) and snowmelt at sub-catchment scale. Elevation bands and parameter-sensitivity analyses were built in the SWAT model to assess historical and predicted hydrological scenarios.
Glacier presence in the Satluj River influence temporal changes in streamflow generation and the...
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