Document Type


Publication Date

January 1969


The rapid growth in recent years of a variety of demands upon available water resources has lead to an increasing interest in more fundamental approaches to the science of hydrology. Accompanying this growth has been a need for an increased understanding of the snowmelt process. A completely adequate description of the entire physical process of snowmelt under all conditions is not yet available. The complex interrelated and variable nature of the snowmelt processes that occur simultaneously complicate the problem. A preliminary mathematical model of the snowmelt process has been developed in which processes such as pack settlement rates and energy flow in the pack by means of both conduction and liquid movement are considered. Factors such as an temperature, surface albedo, and degree and direction of slope are also included. A temperature criterion is applied to predict the form of precipitation input (snow or rain) to the model. Equations of the various processes are synthesized into a dynamic model of the total system by means of an electronic analog computer. This computer was utilized primarily because of its ability to (1) perform repetitive operations at very high speeds and (2) solve directly the several time-dependent partial differential equations included in the model. Field data from snow laboraties operated by the Corps of Engineers and highly instrumented watersheds of the Agricultural Research Service are being used to test and verify the model. Inital results have indicated close agreement between observed and computed results. Sensitivity studies have been conducted, and work is continuing to further test and improve the model.