Comparison of FASST and SNTHERM in Three Snow Accumulation Regimes

Susan Frankenstein U.S. Army ERDC–CRREL, Hanover, New Hampshire

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Anne Sawyer NOAA/NWS/NOHRSC, Chanhassen, Minnesota

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Julie Koeberle Snow Survey Office, National Resources Conservation Service, USDA, Boise, Idaho

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Abstract

Numerical experiments of snow accumulation and depletion were carried out as well as surface energy fluxes over four Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) sites in Colorado using the Snow Thermal model (SNTHERM) and the Fast All-Season Soil Strength model (FASST). SNTHERM is a multilayer snow model developed to describe changes in snow properties as a function of depth and time, using a one-dimensional mass and energy balance. The model is intended for seasonal snow covers and addresses conditions found throughout the winter, from initial ground freezing in the fall to snow ablation in the spring. It has been used by many researchers over a variety of terrains. FASST is a newly developed one-dimensional dynamic state-of-the-ground model. It calculates the ground’s moisture content, ice content, temperature, and freeze–thaw profiles as well as soil strength and surface ice and snow accumulation/depletion. Because FASST is newer and not as well known, the authors wanted to determine its use as a snow model by comparing it with SNTHERM, one of the most established snow models available. It is demonstrated that even though FASST is only a single-layer snow model, the RMSE snow depth compared very favorably against SNTHERM, often performing better during the accumulation phase. The surface energy fluxes calculated by the two models were also compared and were found to be similar.

Corresponding author address: Susan Frankenstein, ERDC–CRREL, 72 Lyme Rd., Hanover, NH 03755. Email: susan.frankenstein@erdc.usace.army.mil

This article included in the The Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) special collection.

Abstract

Numerical experiments of snow accumulation and depletion were carried out as well as surface energy fluxes over four Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) sites in Colorado using the Snow Thermal model (SNTHERM) and the Fast All-Season Soil Strength model (FASST). SNTHERM is a multilayer snow model developed to describe changes in snow properties as a function of depth and time, using a one-dimensional mass and energy balance. The model is intended for seasonal snow covers and addresses conditions found throughout the winter, from initial ground freezing in the fall to snow ablation in the spring. It has been used by many researchers over a variety of terrains. FASST is a newly developed one-dimensional dynamic state-of-the-ground model. It calculates the ground’s moisture content, ice content, temperature, and freeze–thaw profiles as well as soil strength and surface ice and snow accumulation/depletion. Because FASST is newer and not as well known, the authors wanted to determine its use as a snow model by comparing it with SNTHERM, one of the most established snow models available. It is demonstrated that even though FASST is only a single-layer snow model, the RMSE snow depth compared very favorably against SNTHERM, often performing better during the accumulation phase. The surface energy fluxes calculated by the two models were also compared and were found to be similar.

Corresponding author address: Susan Frankenstein, ERDC–CRREL, 72 Lyme Rd., Hanover, NH 03755. Email: susan.frankenstein@erdc.usace.army.mil

This article included in the The Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) special collection.

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