Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Hydrologic Sciences



Major Advisor

James P. McNamara, Ph.D.


Hans-Peter Marshall, Ph.D.


Alejandro N. Flores, Ph.D.


During the 2009-2010 winter season, 21 inexpensive ultrasonic snow depth (USD) sensors were constructed and installed, in addition to two standard Judd USD sensors, at Treeline and Lower Deer Point sites located within the snow dominated Dry Creek Experimental Watershed, near Boise, Idaho. Six USD sensors, including a single Judd Communications USD sensor, were installed at the Treeline site along a northeast to southwest transect of the small 0.02 km2 catchment. Seventeen USD sensors, including a single Judd Communications USD sensor, were installed at Lower Deer Point in a randomized stratified pattern with respect to aspect and vegetation to reflect the nature of the ridge knob site. The purpose of this study was to investigate the local variability of SWE in the form of new fallen snow and assess how well data obtained from standard precipitation gauges represent local conditions. Spatial distributions of new snow depth were converted to estimated new SWE, based off of the relationship between USD measurements of new fallen snow depth and new fallen snow density estimates collected from storm boards placed in a stratified pattern with respect to USD site locations at Treeline and Lower Deer Point. In all, on a storm by storm basis, Lower Deer Point and Treeline precipitation gauges were found to underestimate water accumulation by approximately 16% to 30% and 18% to 26%, respectively. These findings are consistent with what is typically observed from uncorrected weighing-type precipitation gauge measurements. Additionally, variability associated with new fallen SWE estimates was found to increase with increasing snow accumulation totals, which was consistent with previous field studies.

Included in

Hydrology Commons