For many years, digital snow cover mapping using satellite data had to be carried out on large and expensive image processing systems. Recently, small computer systems (microcomputers) have been developed for image processing. Snowmelt runoff forecasting models have also been developed to run on microcomputers. Digital snow mapping procedures were surveyed, and a general snow mapping approach was developed that allows use in various snowpack regions. Tests were conducted to determine if satellite snow cover mapping could be carried out effectively on the microcomputers and which combination of software and hardware provided optimum performance. A range of computer facilities was tested and recommended capabilities for snow cover image processing were established. It was discovered that adequate microcomputer image processing systems were already on the market, and that the Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM) could easily be run on the same microcomputer system. Further improvements will result as the 40486 microcomputers image processing systems become widely available. The microcomputer approach, as opposed to operation on larger, more expensive, and non dedicated systems, has much appeal for hydroelectric power companies and other small users who need economical, yet powerful, processing systems where both snow mapping and snowmelt runoff forecasting can be conducted.

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