Jain, SK, Goswami, A, Saraf, AK (2009). Role of Elevation and Aspect in Snow Distribution in Western Himalaya. WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, 23(1), 71-83.
Snow is a dynamic natural element, the distribution of which is largely controlled by latitude and altitude. In the tropical country like India, snow distribution is mostly controlled by altitude. The present study aims to identify the relationship between snow accumulation with elevation and aspect in rugged terrain in the Himalayan region. The river basins of four tributaries of the River Indus i.e. Satluj, Chenab, Ravi and Beas located in the western Himalaya were considered for study. Snow covered area was estimated for a period of 2 years (01 Jan 2003 to 17 Dec 2004) using MODIS 8 days' maximum snow cover products. Aspect and classified relief maps were prepared using the USGS DEM. The inter-relationship between aspect, elevation and snow cover area was determined for all the four river basins and comparative analysis has been made. A 2 years average shows that Satluj has the minimum snow covered area 23%, while Chenab has the highest snow covered area i.e. 42%, Ravi and Beas has 33% and 38% respectively. The minimum elevation from where snow covered area appears has been calculated and it has been observed that in case of Satluj, snow appears at a higher elevation (1,369 m) while in Chenab snow appears at an elevation of 834 m, followed by Ravi (1,058 m) and Beas (1,264 m). It was found that aspect has a major impact on snow accumulation in the lower elevations in all the basins as compared to higher elevations. Snow accumulates most in the northwest and northeast aspect. The rate of change in snow cover with elevation is determined for all the river basins and it has been concluded that Satluj has the lowest rate of change of snow cover with elevation (1.3% per 100 m), Chenab 1.8% per 100 m, followed by Ravi 2% per 100 m and Beas (2% per 100 m).