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Phillip Harder
,
Warren D. Helgason
, and
John W. Pomeroy

Abstract

On the Canadian Prairies, agricultural practices result in millions of hectares of standing crop stubble that gradually emerges during snowmelt. The importance of stubble in trapping wind-blown snow and retaining winter snowfall has been well demonstrated. However, stubble is not explicitly accounted for in hydrological or energy balance snowmelt models. This paper relates measurable stubble parameters (height, width, areal density, and albedo) to the snowpack energy balance and snowmelt with the new, physically based Stubble–Snow–Atmosphere Model (SSAM). Novel process representations of SSAM quantify the attenuation of shortwave radiation by exposed stubble, the sky and vegetation view factors needed to solve longwave radiation terms, and a resistance scheme for stubble–snow–atmosphere fluxes to solve for surface temperatures and turbulent fluxes. SSAM results were compared to observations of radiometric snow-surface temperature, stubble temperature, snow-surface solar irradiance, areal-average turbulent fluxes, and snow water equivalent from two intensive field campaigns during snowmelt in 2015 and 2016 over wheat and canola stubble in Saskatchewan, Canada. Uncalibrated SSAM simulations compared well with these observations, providing confidence in the model structure and parameterization. A sensitivity analysis conducted using SSAM revealed compensatory relationships in energy balance terms that result in a small increase in net snowpack energy as stubble exposure increases.

Open access
Jonathan P. Conway
,
John W. Pomeroy
,
Warren D. Helgason
, and
Nicholas J. Kinar

Abstract

Forest clearings are common features of evergreen forests and produce snowpack accumulation and melt differing from that in adjacent forests and open terrain. This study has investigated the challenges in specifying the turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat to snowpacks in forest clearings. The snowpack in two forest clearings in the Canadian Rockies was simulated using a one-dimensional (1D) snowpack model. A trade-off was found between optimizing against measured snow surface temperature or snowmelt when choosing how to specify the turbulent fluxes. Schemes using the Monin–Obukhov similarity theory tended to produce negatively biased surface temperature, while schemes that enhanced turbulent fluxes, to reduce the surface temperature bias, resulted in too much melt. Uncertainty estimates from Monte Carlo experiments showed that no realistic parameter set could successfully remove biases in both surface temperature and melt. A simple scheme that excludes atmospheric stability correction was required to successfully simulate surface temperature under low wind speed conditions. Nonturbulent advective fluxes and/or nonlocal sources of turbulence are thought to account for the maintenance of heat exchange in low-wind conditions. The simulation of snowmelt was improved by allowing enhanced latent heat fluxes during low-wind conditions. Caution is warranted when snowpack models are optimized on surface temperature, as model tuning may compensate for deficiencies in conceptual and numerical models of radiative, conductive, and turbulent heat exchange at the snow surface and within the snowpack. Such model tuning could have large impacts on the melt rate and timing of the snow-free transition in simulations of forest clearings within hydrological and meteorological models.

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Jean Emmanuel Sicart
,
Richard L. H. Essery
,
John W. Pomeroy
,
Janet Hardy
,
Timothy Link
, and
Danny Marks

Abstract

This study investigates the dependence of net radiation at snow surfaces under forest canopies on the overlying canopy density. The daily sum of positive values of net radiation is used as an index of the snowmelt rate. Canopy cover is represented in terms of shortwave transmissivity and sky-view factor. The cases studied are a spruce forest in the Wolf Creek basin, Yukon Territory, Canada, and a pine forest near Fraser, Colorado. Of particular interest are the atmospheric conditions that favor an offset between shortwave energy attenuation and longwave irradiance enhancement by the canopy, such that net radiation does not decrease with increasing forest density. Such an offset is favored in dry climates and at high altitudes, where atmospheric emissivities are low, and in early spring when snow albedos are high and solar elevations are low. For low snow albedos, a steady decrease in snowmelt energy with increasing canopy cover is found, up to a forest density close to the actual densities of mature spruce forests. Snowmelt rates for high albedos are either insensitive or increase with increasing canopy cover. At both sites, foliage area indices close to 2 are associated with a minimum in net radiation, independent of snow albedo or cloud cover. However, these results are more uncertain for open forests because solar heating of trees may invalidate the longwave assumptions, increasing the longwave irradiance.

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Chandra Rupa Rajulapati
,
Simon Michael Papalexiou
,
Martyn P. Clark
, and
John W. Pomeroy

Abstract

Gridded precipitation datasets are used in many applications such as the analysis of climate variability/change and hydrological modeling. Regridding precipitation datasets is common for model coupling (e.g., coupling atmospheric and hydrological models) or comparing different models and datasets. However, regridding can considerably alter precipitation statistics. In this global analysis, the effects of regridding a precipitation dataset are emphasized using three regridding methods (first-order conservative, bilinear, and distance-weighted averaging). The differences between the original and regridded dataset are substantial and greatest at high quantiles. Differences of 46 and 0.13 mm are noted in high (0.95) and low (0.05) quantiles, respectively. The impacts of regridding vary spatially for land and oceanic regions; there are substantial differences at high quantiles in tropical land regions, and at low quantiles in polar regions. These impacts are approximately the same for different regridding methods. The differences increase with the size of the grid at higher quantiles and vice versa for low quantiles. As the grid resolution increases, the difference between original and regridded data declines, yet the shift size dominates for high quantiles for which the differences are higher. While regridding is often necessary to use gridded precipitation datasets, it should be used with great caution for fine resolutions (e.g., daily and subdaily), because it can severely alter the statistical properties of precipitation, specifically at high and low quantiles.

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Pablo F. Dornes
,
John W. Pomeroy
,
Alain Pietroniro
, and
Diana L. Verseghy

Abstract

Small-scale topography and snow redistribution have important effects on snow-cover heterogeneity and the timing, rate, and duration of spring snowmelt in mountain tundra environments. However, land surface schemes (LSSs) are usually applied as a means to provide large-scale surface states and vertical fluxes to atmospheric models and do not normally incorporate topographic effects or horizontal fluxes in their calculations

A study was conducted in Granger Creek, an 8-km2 catchment within Wolf Creek Research Basin in the Yukon Territory, Canada, to examine whether inclusion of the effects of wind redistribution of snow between landscape units, and slope and aspect in snowmelt calculations for tiles, could improve the simulation of snowmelt by an LSS.

Measured snow accumulation, reflecting overwinter wind redistribution of snow, was used to provide initial conditions for the melt simulation, and physically based algorithms from a small-scale hydrological model were used to calculate radiation on slopes during melt. Based on consideration of the spatial distribution of snow accumulation, topography, and shrub cover in the basin, it was divided into five landscapes units (tiles) for simulation of mass and energy balance using an LSS during melt. Effects of averaging initial conditions and forcing data on LSS model performance were contrasted against distributed simulations. Results showed that, in most of the cases, simulations using aggregated initial conditions and forcing data gave unsuccessful descriptions of snow ablation whereas the incorporation of both snow-cover redistribution and slope and aspect effects in an LSS improved the prediction of snowmelt rate, timing, and duration.

Full access
Chandra Rupa Rajulapati
,
Simon Michael Papalexiou
,
Martyn P. Clark
,
Saman Razavi
,
Guoqiang Tang
, and
John W. Pomeroy

Abstract

Global gridded precipitation products have proven essential for many applications ranging from hydrological modeling and climate model validation to natural hazard risk assessment. They provide a global picture of how precipitation varies across time and space, specifically in regions where ground-based observations are scarce. While the application of global precipitation products has become widespread, there is limited knowledge on how well these products represent the magnitude and frequency of extreme precipitation—the key features in triggering flood hazards. Here, five global precipitation datasets (MSWEP, CFSR, CPC, PERSIANN-CDR, and WFDEI) are compared to each other and to surface observations. The spatial variability of relatively high precipitation events (tail heaviness) and the resulting discrepancy among datasets in the predicted precipitation return levels were evaluated for the time period 1979–2017. The analysis shows that 1) these products do not provide a consistent representation of the behavior of extremes as quantified by the tail heaviness, 2) there is strong spatial variability in the tail index, 3) the spatial patterns of the tail heaviness generally match the Köppen–Geiger climate classification, and 4) the predicted return levels for 100 and 1000 years differ significantly among the gridded products. More generally, our findings reveal shortcomings of global precipitation products in representing extremes and highlight that there is no single global product that performs best for all regions and climates.

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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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Richard Essery
,
Nick Rutter
,
John Pomeroy
,
Robert Baxter
,
Manfred Stähli
,
David Gustafsson
,
Alan Barr
,
Paul Bartlett
, and
Kelly Elder

The Northern Hemisphere has large areas that are forested and seasonally snow covered. Compared with open areas, forest canopies strongly influence interactions between the atmosphere and snow on the ground by sheltering the snow from wind and solar radiation and by intercepting falling snow; these influences have important consequences for the meteorology, hydrology, and ecology of forests. Many of the land surface models used in meteorological and hydrological forecasting now include representations of canopy snow processes, but these have not been widely tested in comparison with observations. Phase 2 of the Snow Model Intercomparison Project (SnowMIP2) was therefore designed as an intercomparison of surface mass and energy balance simulations for snow in forested areas. Model forcing and calibration data for sites with paired forested and open plots were supplied to modeling groups. Participants in 11 countries contributed output from 33 models, and the results are published here for sites in Canada, the United States, and Switzerland. On average, the models perform fairly well in simulating snow accumulation and ablation, although there is a wide intermodal spread and a tendency to underestimate differences in snow mass between open and forested areas. Most models capture the large differences in surface albedos and temperatures between forest canopies and open snow well. There is, however, a strong tendency for models to underestimate soil temperature under snow, particularly for forest sites, and this would have large consequences for simulations of runoff and biological processes in the soil.

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John Pomeroy
,
Chad Ellis
,
Aled Rowlands
,
Richard Essery
,
Janet Hardy
,
Tim Link
,
Danny Marks
, and
Jean Emmanuel Sicart

Abstract

The spatial variation of melt energy can influence snow cover depletion rates and in turn be influenced by the spatial variability of shortwave irradiance to snow. The spatial variability of shortwave irradiance during melt under uniform and discontinuous evergreen canopies at a U.S. Rocky Mountains site was measured, analyzed, and then compared to observations from mountain and boreal forests in Canada. All observations used arrays of pyranometers randomly spaced under evergreen canopies of varying structure and latitude. The spatial variability of irradiance for both overcast and clear conditions declined dramatically, as the sample averaging interval increased from minutes to 1 day. At daily averaging intervals, there was little influence of cloudiness on the variability of subcanopy irradiance; instead, it was dominated by stand structure. The spatial variability of irradiance on daily intervals was higher for the discontinuous canopies, but it did not scale reliably with canopy sky view. The spatial variation in irradiance resulted in a coefficient of variation of melt energy of 0.23 for the set of U.S. and Canadian stands. This variability in melt energy smoothed the snow-covered area depletion curve in a distributed melt simulation, thereby lengthening the duration of melt by 20%. This is consistent with observed natural snow cover depletion curves and shows that variations in melt energy and snow accumulation can influence snow-covered area depletion under forest canopies.

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Julie M. Thériault
,
Nicolas R. Leroux
,
Ronald E. Stewart
,
André Bertoncini
,
Stephen J. Déry
,
John W. Pomeroy
,
Hadleigh D. Thompson
,
Hilary Smith
,
Zen Mariani
,
Aurélie Desroches-Lapointe
,
Selina Mitchell
, and
Juris Almonte

Abstract

The Canadian Rockies are a triple-continental divide, whose high mountains are drained by major snow-fed and rain-fed rivers flowing to the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans. The objective of the April–June 2019 Storms and Precipitation Across the continental Divide Experiment (SPADE) was to determine the atmospheric processes producing precipitation on the eastern and western sides of the Canadian Rockies during springtime, a period when upslope events of variable phase dominate precipitation on the eastern slopes. To do so, three observing sites across the divide were instrumented with advanced meteorological sensors. During the 13 observed events, the western side recorded only 25% of the eastern side’s precipitation accumulation, rainfall occurred rather than snowfall, and skies were mainly clear. Moisture sources and amounts varied markedly between events. An atmospheric river landfall in California led to moisture flowing persistently northward and producing the longest duration of precipitation on both sides of the divide. Moisture from the continental interior always produced precipitation on the eastern side but only in specific conditions on the western side. Mainly slow-falling ice crystals, sometimes rimed, formed at higher elevations on the eastern side (>3 km MSL), were lifted, and subsequently drifted westward over the divide during nonconvective storms to produce rain at the surface on the western side. Overall, precipitation generally crossed the divide in the Canadian Rockies during specific spring-storm atmospheric conditions although amounts at the surface varied with elevation, condensate type, and local and large-scale flow fields.

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