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Snow Hydrology and Cold Regions Engineering

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 Snowy mountain range


Liping Wang

Importance of snow water storage in mountains is widely recognized for summer-time irrigation and food production in the downstream states. The process-based modeling of hydrologic systems including snow is an essential and cost effective tool for our resource management and risk analysis. We are aiming to establish a methodology to estimate and predict the snow accumulation, blowing snow, snowdrift, and snowmelt for water resource management at the watershed and regional scales.

Dr. Ohara, the leader of this group, has been working on snow and watershed hydrology modeling for more than fifteen years through national and international research projects. A numerical algorithm for snowmelt and snow accumulation processes for very fine scale modeling (~10m grid resolution) was developed and applied to various watersheds around the world. The model solves the depth-averaged snow equations for snow depth, snow surface temperature, and snow density, with consideration of vegetation interception and terrain angles. His model is a snow component of an award-winning, Watershed Environmental Hydrology (WEHY) model.

Due to strong wind of Wyoming, snow transport process often dominates snow distributions. We have been working on snow redistribution modeling (Ohara, 2014; He et al., 2017). Recent publication on snow drift prediction (Ohara, 2017) was featured in Water Resources Research (WRR) in a commentary article titled, Modeling blowing snow accumulation downwind of an obstruction: The Ohara Eulerian particle distribution equation, by Dr. N. J. Kinar.

He has been operating mesoscale numerical weather prediction models, such as the PSU/NCAR mesoscale model (MM5) and Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. They can produce the regional scale atmospheric conditions by dynamically downscaling atmospheric reanalysis data, global forecasting data, and General Circulation Model (GCM) outputs. He was a key researcher for a new estimation methodology of the physical maximum precipitation and flood using a numerical weather prediction model. He has been a user of high performance computing (HPC) resources around the University of Wyoming, including the NCAR-Wyoming Center, and the UW on-campus cluster.

He also performed a field experiments at Ward Creek watershed, Tahoe Basin, California, for snow thermal and runoff processes within a snow-covered hillslope. We established a similar field site in Snowy Range, Wyoming, to quantify the overland/in-snow flow component on the hillslope.

He has contributed to the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG) EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 project, funded by NSF, as a snow partitioning team leader. He has been operating a weather station and several shallow aquifer monitoring sites in Snowy Range, Wyoming.

Contact us today

Noriaki Ohara, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of Wyoming
Civil and Architectural Engineering
1000 E. University Avenue, Laramie, Wyoming 82071
3049 Engineering Building

Phone: (307)343-2670


Note to Prospective Graduate Students

To learn more about working with Dr. Noriaki Ohara in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Wyoming:

To learn more our graduate program, please visit:
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Contact Us

Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management

EN 3074

Dept. 3295

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: (307)766-2390


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1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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