Dynamics of Maximum Snow Cover Area and Snow Line Altitude Across Nepal (2003-2018) Using Improved MODIS Data
Snow is one of the main components of the cryosphere and plays a vital role in the hydrology and regulating climate. This study presents the dynamics of maximum snow cover area (SCA) and snow line altitude (SLA) across the Western, Central, and Eastern Nepal using improved Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS; 500 m) data from 2003 to 2018. The results showed a heterogeneous behavior of the spatial and temporal variations of SCA in different months, seasons, and elevation zones across three regions of Nepal. Further, the maximum and minimum SCA was observed in winter (December-February) and post-monsoon (October-November) seasons, respectively. The inter-annual variation of winter SCA showed an overall negative trend of SCA between 2003 to 2018 at the national and regional scales. The SLA was assessed in the post-monsoon season. At the national scale, the SLA lies in an elevation zone of 4500-5000 m, and the approximate SLA of Nepal was 4750 m in 2018. Regionally, the SLA lies in an elevation zone of 4500-5000 m in the Western and Central regions (approx. SLA at 4750 m) and 5000-5500 m in the Eastern region (approx. SLA at 5250 m) in 2018. The SLA fluctuated with the changes in SCA, and the spatio-temporal variations of SLAs were observed in three regions of Nepal. We observed an upward shift of SLA by 33.3 m yr-1 in the Western and Central Nepal and by 66.7 m yr-1 in Eastern Nepal. This study will help to understand the impacts of climate change on snow cover, and the information will be useful for the hydrologist and water resource managers.
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