Civil and Environmental Engineering


Document Type


Date of this Version



Scientific Reports | (2023) 13:20664 |


Open access.


In several regions across the globe, snow has a significant impact on hydrology. The amounts of water that infiltrate the ground and flow as runoff are driven by the melting of snow. Therefore, it is crucial to study the magnitude and effect of snowmelt. Snow droughts, resulting from reduced snow storage, can drastically impact the water supplies in basins where snow predominates, such as in the western United States. Hence, it is important to detect the time and severity of snow droughts efficiently. We propose the Snow Drought Response Index or SnoDRI, a novel indicator that could be used to identify and quantify snow drought occurrences. Our index is calculated using cutting-edge ML algorithms from various snow-related variables. The self-supervised learning of an autoencoder is combined with mutual information in the model. In this study, we use Random Forests for feature extraction for SnoDRI and assess the importance of each variable. We use reanalysis data (NLDAS-2) from 1981 to 2021 for the Pacific United States to study the efficacy of the new snow drought index. We evaluate the index by confirming the coincidence of its interpretation and the actual snow drought incidents.