The results presented in this study indicate the possibility of seasonal runoff prediction when satellite-derived basin snow-cover data are related to point source river discharge data for a number of years. NOAA-VHRR satellite images have been used to delineate the areal extent of snow cover for early April over the Indus and Kabul River basins in Pakistan. Simple photo-interpretation techniques, using a zoom transfer scope, were employed in transferring satellite snow-cover boundaries onto base map overlays. A linear regression model with April 1 through July 31 seasonal runoff (1974-1979) as a function of early April snow cover explains 73% and 82% of the variance, respectively, of the measured flow in the Indus and Kabul Rivers. The correlation between seasonal runoff and snow cover is significant at the 97% level for the Indus River and at the 99% level for the Kabul River. Combining Rango et al.'s (1977) data for 1969-73 with the above period, the April snow cover explains 60% and 90% of the variance, respectively, of the measured flow in the Indus and Kabul Rivers. In an attempt to improve the Indus relationship, a multiple regression model, with April 1 through July 31, 1969-79, seasonal runoff in the Indus River as a function of early April snow-covered area of the basin and concurrent runoff in the adjoining Kabul River, explains 79% of the variability in flow. Moreover, a significant reduction (27%) in the standard error of estimate results from using the multi-variate model. For each year of the study period, 1969-79, a separate multiple regression equation is developed dropping the data for the year in question from the data-base and using those for the rest of the years. The snow cover area and concurrent runoff data are then used to estimate the snowmelt runoff for that particular year.The difference between the estimated and observed dircharge values averaged over the 11 year study period is 10%. Satellite derived snow-covered area is the best available input for snowmelt-runoff estimation in remote, data sparse basins like the Indus and Kabul Rivers. The study has operational relevance to water resource planning and management in the Himalayan region.
- Received November 1, 1983.
- © IWA Publishing 1983