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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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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.

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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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