Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Geosciences

Committee Chair

Joel T. Harper

Commitee Members

Donald F. Potts, Johnnie N. Moore


MODIS, Montana, snowmelt model


University of Montana


Bleha, Jessica, M.S., Autumn 2006 Geosciences Development and Application of a MODIS Driven Snowmelt Model in Northwestern Montana Chairperson: Joel T. Harper In the mountain west the timing of the spring snowmelt pulse has considerable impact on water resources and ecological processes such as fire. A forward shift of this timing due to warming climate has received considerable attention. The internal structure and physical processes of the mountain snowpack also have a large influence on the timing of spring runoff. Here we investigate controlling factors in the timing of the spring melt pulse in a large-scale northern Rockies watershed. We employ a snowmelt model to investigate historical records of the initiation of spring snowmelt runoff. Two watersheds were selected as test sites: (1) St. Mary – a small (81 km2) basin east of the continental divide and (2) Middle Fork Flathead River – a large (2903 km2) basin west of the divide. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 8-day snow-cover products, Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL), climate, and streamflow data were collected for the study area for years 2000-2005. We performed a detailed accuracy assessment of the snow-cover product in the mountainous terrain and poor weather conditions of the northern Rockies. The assessment utilized 6 SNOTEL sites and over 1000 ground based measurements spanning the 6 year period. The MODIS products were then used to determine snow covered area within the test basins at 8 day time steps throughout the six winter seasons. Snow-cover and climate data were input to the spatially distributed snowmelt model to determine the component of runoff derived from snow. The time series of modeled snowmelt was compared to basin runoff records to elucidate the processes governing the initial signal of spring snowmelt in river discharge.



© Copyright 2006 Jessica A. Bleha