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Blowing Snow on Arctic Sea Ice: Results from an Improved Sea Ice–Snow–Blowing Snow Coupled System

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  • 1 Meteorological Research Division, Environment Canada, Dorval, Quebec, Canada
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Abstract

A one-dimensional (1D) version of a blowing snow model, called PIEKTUK-D, has been incorporated into a snow–sea ice coupled system. Blowing snow results in sublimation of approximately 12 mm of snow water equivalent (SWE), which is equal to approximately 6% of the annual precipitation over 324 days from 1997 to 1998. This effect leads to an average decrease of 9 cm in snow depth for an 11-month simulation of the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) dataset (from 31 October 1997 to 1 October 1998). Inclusion of blowing snow has a significant impact on snow evolution between February and June, during which it is responsible for a decrease in snow depth error by about 30%. Between November and January, however, other factors such as regional surface topography or horizontal wind transport may have had a greater influence on the evolution of the snowpack and sea ice. During these few months the new system does not perform as well, with a snow depth percentage error of 39%—much larger than the 12% error found between February and June. The results also indicate a slight increase of 4 cm on average for ice thickness, and a decrease of 0.4 K for the temperature at the snow–ice interface. One of the main effects of blowing snow is to shorten the duration of snow cover above sea ice by approximately 4 days and to lead to earlier ice melt by approximately 6 days. Blowing snow also has a very small impact on internal characteristics of the snowpack, such as grain size and density, leading to a weaker snowpack.

Current affiliation: University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Corresponding author address: Yi-Ching Chung, Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba, 125 Dysart Road, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada. E-mail: chung@cc.umanitoba.ca

Abstract

A one-dimensional (1D) version of a blowing snow model, called PIEKTUK-D, has been incorporated into a snow–sea ice coupled system. Blowing snow results in sublimation of approximately 12 mm of snow water equivalent (SWE), which is equal to approximately 6% of the annual precipitation over 324 days from 1997 to 1998. This effect leads to an average decrease of 9 cm in snow depth for an 11-month simulation of the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) dataset (from 31 October 1997 to 1 October 1998). Inclusion of blowing snow has a significant impact on snow evolution between February and June, during which it is responsible for a decrease in snow depth error by about 30%. Between November and January, however, other factors such as regional surface topography or horizontal wind transport may have had a greater influence on the evolution of the snowpack and sea ice. During these few months the new system does not perform as well, with a snow depth percentage error of 39%—much larger than the 12% error found between February and June. The results also indicate a slight increase of 4 cm on average for ice thickness, and a decrease of 0.4 K for the temperature at the snow–ice interface. One of the main effects of blowing snow is to shorten the duration of snow cover above sea ice by approximately 4 days and to lead to earlier ice melt by approximately 6 days. Blowing snow also has a very small impact on internal characteristics of the snowpack, such as grain size and density, leading to a weaker snowpack.

Current affiliation: University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Corresponding author address: Yi-Ching Chung, Centre for Earth Observation Science, University of Manitoba, 125 Dysart Road, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada. E-mail: chung@cc.umanitoba.ca
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