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Utah State University Drainage Farm Snow Measurements

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Created: Jun 11, 2021 at 10:40 a.m.
Last updated: Jun 11, 2021 at 11:15 a.m.
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An experiment to measure snow energy balance and sublimation from snow in the winter of 1992 - 1993 was conducted at the USU drainage and evapotranspiration experimental farm located in Cache Valley near Logan, Utah, USA (41.6˚ N, 111.6˚ W, 1350 m elevation). The weather station and instrumentation were in a small fenced enclosure at the center of a large open field. There are no obstructions to wind in any direction for at least 500 m. Cache Valley is a flat bottomed valley surrounded by mountains that reach elevations of 3000 m. During the period of this experiment the ground was snow covered from November 20, 1992 to March 22, 1993. Air temperatures ranged from -23 ˚C to 16 ˚C and there was 190 mm of precipitation (mostly snow, but some rain). The snow accumulated to a maximum depth of 0.5 m with maximum water equivalence of 0.14 m. Data collected included measurements of snow water equivalent, snow surface temperature and the meteorological variables necessary to drive the UEB snowmelt model. Temperatures within the snow were measured using a ladder of thermocouples suspended on fishing line strung between two upright posts at 75 mm spacing. The instrumentation also included two weighing lysimeters comprising 1 x 1 x 1 m metal boxes embedded flush with the surface and filled with soil, vegetated with grass similar to the surrounding agricultural field. Load cells (underneath in the case of one lysimeter and at the corners for the other) record the weight of soil, grass, soil moisture and snow over the 1 m2 areas. Meltwater infiltrates into the lysimeter and so does not result in a weight change. Changes in weight are due only to addition or removal of mass from the surface, which in the case of snow can be due to precipitation, condensation, sublimation and wind drifting.

This work has been described in

You, J., Tarboton, D. G., and Luce, C. H.: Modeling the snow surface temperature with a one-layer energy balance snowmelt model, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 5061–5076,, 2014.

Luce, C. H. and D. G. Tarboton, (2010), "Evaluation of alternative formulae for calculation of surface temperature in snowmelt models using frequency analysis of temperature observations," Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 14(3): 535-543,

You, J., (2004), "Snow Hydrology: The Parameterization of Subgrid Processes within a Physically Based Snow Energy and Mass Balance Model," PhD Thesis, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Utah State University,

Luce, C. H., (2000), "Scale Influences on the Representation of Snowpack Processes," PhD Thesis, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Utah State University,, 188 pp.

Among others

Subject Keywords



Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Cache Valley, Utah


How to Cite

Tarboton, D. (2021). Utah State University Drainage Farm Snow Measurements, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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