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Snow and Climate

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Problem Statement

You work for a consulting company and one of your clients is expanding their snow centered business across the US and is interested in knowing how climate change will impact snow and streamflow in the intermountain west and the northeastern United States. They have hired you to project likely changes in future snow depth, snow duration and streamflow under climate change for each of these locations.

Module Overview

This module will provide the student with learning activities and tools needed to develop a basic knowledge of snow processes and complete the report for the client. This knowledge is developed by completing the five module sections that build off each other and start with the basics of snow formation and end with analyzing how snow processes are impacted by a changing climate.

Topics Covered

  • The fundamental aspects of snow formation and terminology.
  • The basics of snow measurement and analysis.
  • The basics of using numerical snow processes models and how to consider uncertainty, calibration and validation in an assessment.
  • The basics of using climate simulations to assess the projected change in snow and streamflow.


A desire to learn more about snow, climate and numerical modeling.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

  • Describe processes governing snow and meteorology.
  • Develop a technical vocabulary to describe snow states and measurement.
  • Analyze the monthly and annual relationships of snow measurements and streamflow.
  • Describe the key components of snow models.
  • Contrast modeled and observed snow and streamflow relationships while considering uncertainty.
  • Analyze the temporal change of snow and streamflow due to a changing climate.

Course Authors

Course Staff Image #1

Joshua K. Roundy

Josh is an Assistant Professor in Civil, Environmental, and Architecture Engineering at the University of Kansas. His research focuses on the interactions of the natural and built environment including land-atmosphere interactions, drought mechanism, snow processes, land surface modeling, parameter estimation, seasonal prediction and the impact of human induced change on the water and climate system.
Course Staff Image #2

David Chandler

Dave is an Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University. His research focuses on research investigates hydrologic change related to anthropogenic ecologic and climatic drivers including hydrology, climate change, green infrastructure, and sustainable development.

Target Audience

The target audience is senior undergraduates or graduate students enrolled in earth science and civil and environmental engineering disciplines.

Tools Needed

To complete the module successfully requires a computer with access to the Internet, a Google account to run the learning activities in Google Colabs, and access to Microsoft Office and Excel or Google Docs and Sheets.

Expected Effort

10-14 hours

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