Comparing Simulated and Measured Sensible and Latent Heat Fluxes over Snow under a Pine Canopy to Improve an Energy Balance Snowmelt Model

D. Marks Northwest Watershed Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Boise, Idaho

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A. Winstral Northwest Watershed Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Boise, Idaho

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G. Flerchinger Northwest Watershed Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Boise, Idaho

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M. Reba Department of Civil Engineering, University of Idaho, Boise, Idaho

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J. Pomeroy Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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T. Link Department of Forest Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho

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K. Elder Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

During the second year of the NASA Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX), an eddy covariance (EC) system was deployed at the Local Scale Observation Site (LSOS) from mid-February to June 2003. The EC system was located beneath a uniform pine canopy, where the trees are regularly spaced and are of similar age and height. In an effort to evaluate the turbulent flux calculations of an energy balance snowmelt model (SNOBAL), modeled and EC-measured sensible and latent heat fluxes between the snow cover and the atmosphere during this period are presented and compared. Turbulent fluxes comprise a large component of the snow cover energy balance in the premelt and ripening period (March–early May) and therefore control the internal energy content of the snow cover as melt accelerates in late spring. Simulated snow cover depth closely matched measured values (RMS difference 8.3 cm; Nash–Sutcliff model efficiency 0.90), whereas simulated snow cover mass closely matched the few measured values taken during the season. Over the 927-h comparison period using the default model configuration, simulated sensible heat H was within 1 W m−2, latent heat LυE within 4 W m−2, and cumulative sublimation within 3 mm of that measured by the EC system. Differences between EC-measured and simulated fluxes occurred primarily at night. The reduction of the surface layer specification in the model from 25 to 10 cm reduced flux differences between EC-measured and modeled fluxes to 0 W m−2 for H, 2 W m−2 for LυE, and 1 mm for sublimation. When only daytime fluxes were compared, differences were further reduced to 1 W m−2 for LυE and <1 mm for sublimation. This experiment shows that in addition to traditional mass balance methods, EC-measured fluxes can be used to diagnose the performance of a snow cover energy balance model. It also demonstrates the use of eddy covariance methods for measuring heat and mass fluxes from snow covers at a low-wind, below-canopy site.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Danny G. Marks, Northwest Watershed Research Center, ARS, USDA, Boise, ID 83712- 7716. Email: ars.danny@gmail.com

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

Abstract

During the second year of the NASA Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX), an eddy covariance (EC) system was deployed at the Local Scale Observation Site (LSOS) from mid-February to June 2003. The EC system was located beneath a uniform pine canopy, where the trees are regularly spaced and are of similar age and height. In an effort to evaluate the turbulent flux calculations of an energy balance snowmelt model (SNOBAL), modeled and EC-measured sensible and latent heat fluxes between the snow cover and the atmosphere during this period are presented and compared. Turbulent fluxes comprise a large component of the snow cover energy balance in the premelt and ripening period (March–early May) and therefore control the internal energy content of the snow cover as melt accelerates in late spring. Simulated snow cover depth closely matched measured values (RMS difference 8.3 cm; Nash–Sutcliff model efficiency 0.90), whereas simulated snow cover mass closely matched the few measured values taken during the season. Over the 927-h comparison period using the default model configuration, simulated sensible heat H was within 1 W m−2, latent heat LυE within 4 W m−2, and cumulative sublimation within 3 mm of that measured by the EC system. Differences between EC-measured and simulated fluxes occurred primarily at night. The reduction of the surface layer specification in the model from 25 to 10 cm reduced flux differences between EC-measured and modeled fluxes to 0 W m−2 for H, 2 W m−2 for LυE, and 1 mm for sublimation. When only daytime fluxes were compared, differences were further reduced to 1 W m−2 for LυE and <1 mm for sublimation. This experiment shows that in addition to traditional mass balance methods, EC-measured fluxes can be used to diagnose the performance of a snow cover energy balance model. It also demonstrates the use of eddy covariance methods for measuring heat and mass fluxes from snow covers at a low-wind, below-canopy site.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Danny G. Marks, Northwest Watershed Research Center, ARS, USDA, Boise, ID 83712- 7716. Email: ars.danny@gmail.com

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

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