Research Article Open Access

Estimating Snow Budget of Karaj Dam Reservoir

Manijeh Ghahroudi Tali, Bohloul Alijani and Reza Sarvati


Problem statement: Most of the cold period precipitation of Karaj Basin falls in the form of snow. This snow and its run off are important to the dam and the local needs such as agriculture and the drinking water of Tehran. But due to the scarcity and in some elevations the lack of weather stations, measuring this snow cover and its run off is difficult. We have decided to estimate the amount of this snow cover by using surrogate methods such as satellite images of MODIS and temperature thresholds. Approach: To estimate the snow water budget of the Karaj Dam Reservoir Basin, first a temperature threshold of 3° Celsius was defined according to the analysis of daily temperature and precipitation values of Nesa station during 1960-2000. The elevation of this temperature was as low as 1590 m in February and 5734 m in August. During each month the melting snow was computed over the area between 3 and zero degrees Celsius and precipitation below zero degrees was considered as permanent snow cover. The precipitation of areas above 3° was computed as rain. Using this temperature threshold and the DEM map of the basin we estimated the snow cover and snow melt water of the basin. The snow cover area on the MODIS images was estimated and compared with that computed from temperature threshold. Both methods gave relatively similar results. At the end the snow melt water of the whole cold period was calculated and added up to estimate the total snow water budget. Results: The results showed that during the study months most (67.7%) of the precipitation comes in the form of snow. And most of this snow (97.5%) melts during months March and onward. Its monthly distributions are 3.8% in March, 22.7% in April and 71% in May. The total snow water entering the dam was about 181.73 million cubic meters. Conclusion: The comparison of the results from temperature thresholds with the MODIS images snow cover showed very little and negligible discrepancy. Therefore, this study confirmed the use of these images as a tool for defining snow cover and snow melt water computations. This finding is very important for the mountainous areas with few scattered or no weather stations.

American Journal of Applied Sciences
Volume 6 No. 5, 2009, 995-1003


Submitted On: 22 May 2008 Published On: 31 May 2009

How to Cite: Tali, M. G., Alijani, B. & Sarvati, R. (2009). Estimating Snow Budget of Karaj Dam Reservoir. American Journal of Applied Sciences, 6(5), 995-1003.

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  • Snows melt water
  • MODIS images and snow cover computations
  • GIS and snow budget
  • snow line temperature threshold