DENVER - The Bureau of Reclamation selected winners for the Snowcast Showdown, a prize competition for improved snowpack water estimating techniques throughout the West. Developing better techniques to determine the amount of water stored as snowpack provides water managers with more accurate information to make better water management decisions.
“Getting better high-resolution snow water equivalent estimates for mountain watersheds and headwater catchments will help to improve runoff and water supply forecasts,” said Chief Engineer David Raff. “This helps water managers better operate with limited water supplies and respond to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.”
The goal of the competition was to improve or identify new methods for estimating the water in the snowpack, or snow water equivalent, in real-time across the Western U.S.
The competition was divided into two tracks – Prediction and Model Evaluation. For Prediction, participants developed a model and calibrated it, and models were tested through real-time evaluation from February to July 2022. In Model Evaluation, competitors that submitted models in the first track were eligible to submit a report that discussed their solution and approaches to solving the problem. Reports were evaluated based on modelling approach and the model’s ability to be applied to a broad range of conditions.
Prizes were offered for overall prediction performance across the Western U.S. and performance in the Sierra Nevada and Central Rocky Mountain ranges. The top three model reports also received prizes. Competitors were eligible for prizes in both tracks and were awarded as follows:
Filipp Bykov and Polina Vytnova: 1st place Prediction Competition $150,000, 2nd place Regional Prediction: Sierras $20,000. Total $170,000 in prize money
Team Ultimate Hydrology: Evgenii Malygin, Maksim Kharlamov, Ivan Malygin, Maria Sakirkina, and Ekaterina Rets: 2nd place Prediction Competition $75,000, 1st place Regional Prediction: Central Rockies $30,000, 2nd place Model Report Competition $20,000, 3rd place Regional Prediction: Sierras $10,000. Total $125,000 in prize money
Matthew Aeschbacher: 1st place Model Report Competition $30,000, 5th place Prediction Competition $20,000, 2nd place Regional Prediction: Central Rockies $20,000. Total $70,000 in prize money
Team U Arizona: Patrick Broxton, Xubin Zeng, Ali Behrangi, and Guo-Yue Niu: 3rd place Prediction Competition $50,000, 3rd place Model Report Competition $10,000. Total $60,000 in prize money
Oleksii Poltavets: 1st place Regional Prediction: Sierras $30,000, 4th place Prediction Competition $25,000, 3rd place Regional Prediction: Central Rockies $10,000. Total $65,000 in prize money
Reclamation is partnered with Bonneville Power Administration, NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA Tournament Lab, DrivenData, HeroX, and Ensemble.
To learn more, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/swe.html.
Reclamation conducts prize competitions to spur innovation by engaging a non-traditional, problem-solver community. Please visit Reclamation's Water Prize Competition Center to learn more.