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Glen E. Liston, Christopher A. Hiemstra, Kelly Elder, and Donald W. Cline

Abstract

The Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) had a goal of describing snow-related features over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. This required linking disparate snow tools and datasets into one coherent, integrated package. Simulating realistic high-resolution snow distributions and features requires a snow-evolution modeling system (SnowModel) that can distribute meteorological forcings, simulate snowpack accumulation and ablation processes, and assimilate snow-related observations. A SnowModel was developed and used to simulate winter snow accumulation across three 30 km × 30 km domains, enveloping the CLPX mesocell study areas (MSAs) in Colorado. The three MSAs have distinct topography, vegetation, meteorological, and snow characteristics. Simulations were performed using a 30-m grid increment and spanned the snow accumulation season (1 October 2002–1 April 2003). Meteorological forcing was provided by 27 meteorological stations and 75 atmospheric analyses grid points, distributed using a meteorological model (MicroMet). The simulations included a data assimilation model (SnowAssim) that adjusted simulated snow water equivalent (SWE) toward ground-based and airborne SWE observations. The observations consisted of SWE over three 1 km × 1 km intensive study areas (ISAs) for each MSA and a collection of 117 airborne gamma observations, each integrating area 10 km long by 300 m wide. Simulated SWE distributions displayed considerably more spatial heterogeneity than the observations alone, and the simulated distribution patterns closely fit the current understanding of snow evolution processes and observed snow depths. This is the result of the MicroMet/SnowModel’s relatively finescale representations of orographic precipitation, elevation-dependant snowmelt, wind redistribution, and snow–vegetation interactions.

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Jicheng Liu, Curtis E. Woodcock, Rae A. Melloh, Robert E. Davis, Ceretha McKenzie, and Thomas H. Painter

Abstract

Forest canopies influence the proportion of the land surface that is visible from above, or the viewable gap fraction (VGF). The VGF limits the amount of information available in satellite data about the land surface, such as snow cover in forests. Efforts to recover fractional snow cover from the spectral mixture analysis model Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) snow-covered area and grain size (MODSCAG) indicate the importance of view angle effects in forested landscapes. The VGF can be estimated using both hemispherical photos and forest canopy models. For a set of stands in the Cold Land Field Processes Experiment (CLPX) sites in the Fraser Experimental Forest in Colorado, the convergence of both measurements and models of the VGF as a function of view angle supports the idea that VGF can be characterized as a function of forest properties. A simple geometric optical (GO) model that includes only between-crown gaps can capture the basic shape of the VGF as a function of view zenith angle. However, the GO model tends to underestimate the VGF compared with estimates derived from hemispherical photos, particularly at high view angles. The use of a more complicated geometric optical–radiative transfer (GORT) model generally improves estimates of the VGF by taking into account within-crown gaps. Small footprint airborne lidar data are useful for mapping forest cover and height, which makes the parameterization of the GORT model possible over a landscape. Better knowledge of the angular distribution of gaps in forest canopies holds promise for improving remote sensing of snow cover fraction.

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Glen E. Liston, Daniel L. Birkenheuer, Christopher A. Hiemstra, Donald W. Cline, and Kelly Elder

Abstract

This paper describes the Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS) and the 20-km horizontal grid version of the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC20) atmospheric analyses datasets, which are available as part of the Cold Land Processes Field Experiment (CLPX) data archive. The LAPS dataset contains spatially and temporally continuous atmospheric and surface variables over Colorado, Wyoming, and parts of the surrounding states. The analysis used a 10-km horizontal grid with 21 vertical levels and an hourly temporal resolution. The LAPS archive includes forty-six 1D surface fields and nine 3D upper-air fields, spanning the period 1 September 2001 through 31 August 2003. The RUC20 dataset includes hourly 3D atmospheric analyses over the contiguous United States and parts of southern Canada and northern Mexico, with 50 vertical levels. The RUC20 archive contains forty-six 1D surface fields and fourteen 3D upper-air fields, spanning the period 1 October 2002 through 31 September 2003. The datasets are archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

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Glen E. Liston and Christopher A. Hiemstra

Abstract

A methodology for assimilating ground-based and remotely sensed snow data within a snow-evolution modeling system (SnowModel) is presented. The data assimilation scheme (SnowAssim) is consistent with optimal interpolation approaches in which the differences between the observed and modeled snow values are used to constrain modeled outputs. The calculated corrections are applied retroactively to create improved fields prior to the assimilated observations. Thus, one of the values of this scheme is the improved simulation of snow-related distributions throughout the entire snow season, even when observations are only available late in the accumulation and/or ablation periods. Because of this, the technique is particularly applicable to reanalysis applications. The methodology includes the ability to stratify the assimilation into regions where either the observations and/or model has unique error properties, such as the differences between forested and nonforested snow environments. The methodologies are introduced using synthetic data and a simple simulation domain. In addition, the model is applied over NASA’s Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX), Rabbit Ears Pass, Colorado, observation domain. Simulations using the data assimilation scheme were found to improve the modeled snow water equivalent (SWE) distributions, and simulated SWE displayed considerably more realistic spatial heterogeneity than that provided by the observations alone.

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Nick Rutter, Don Cline, and Long Li

Abstract

The National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) Snow Model (NSM) is an energy- and mass-balance model used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service for moderate-resolution spatially distributed snow analysis and data assimilation over the United States. The NSM was evaluated in a one-dimensional mode using meteorological and snowpit observations from five sites in Colorado collected during 2002–03. Four parameters estimated by the NSM [snow water equivalent (SWE), snow depth, average snowpack temperature, and snow surface temperature] were compared with snowpit observations and with estimates from another snow energy and mass-balance model, SNTHERM. Root-mean-squared differences (RMSDs) between snowpit SWE observations (January–June) at all sites and estimates from the NSM were about 11% (RMSD = 0.073 m) of the average maximum observed SWE from all sites of 0.694 m. SNTHERM exhibited only a slightly better agreement (RMSD = 0.066 m). During the winter and early spring period before snowpacks became isothermal at 273.15 K, both NSM and SNTHERM simulated significantly cooler average snowpack temperatures than observed (RMSD = 3 and 2 K, respectively). During this snow accumulation period estimates of SWE by both models were very similar. Differences in modeled SWE were traced to short periods (5–21 days) during isothermal conditions in early spring when the two models diverged. These events caused SWE differences that persisted throughout the ablation period and resulted in a range in melt-out times of 0.2–7.2 days between depth observations and modeled estimates. The divergence in SWE resulted from differences in snowmelt fluxes estimated by the two models, which are suggested to result from 1) liquid water fractions within a snowpack being estimated by the NSM using an internal energy method and by SNTHERM using a semiempirical temperature-based approach, and 2) SNTHERM, but not the NSM, accounting for the small liquid water fraction that coexists in equilibrium with snow when the snowpack surface is dry (<273.15 K).

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Richard Essery, Peter Bunting, Aled Rowlands, Nick Rutter, Janet Hardy, Rae Melloh, Tim Link, Danny Marks, and John Pomeroy

Abstract

Solar radiation beneath a forest canopy can have large spatial variations, but this is frequently neglected in radiative transfer models for large-scale applications. To explicitly model spatial variations in subcanopy radiation, maps of canopy structure are required. Aerial photography and airborne laser scanning are used to map tree locations, heights, and crown diameters for a lodgepole pine forest in Colorado as inputs to a spatially explicit radiative transfer model. Statistics of subcanopy radiation simulated by the model are compared with measurements from radiometer arrays, and scaling of spatial statistics with temporal averaging and array size is discussed. Efficient parameterizations for spatial averages and standard deviations of subcanopy radiation are developed using parameters that can be obtained from the model or hemispherical photography.

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