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Jamie D. Hoover, Nolan Doesken, Kelly Elder, Melinda Laituri, and Glen E. Liston

Abstract

Across the globe, wind speed trends have shown a slight decline for in situ meteorological datasets. Yet few studies have assessed long-term wind speed trends for alpine regions or how such trends could influence snow transport and distribution. Alpine-region meteorological stations are sparsely distributed, and their records are short. To increase spatial and temporal coverage, use of modeled data is appealing, but the level of agreement between modeled and in situ data is unknown for alpine regions. Data agreement, temporal trends, and the potential effects on snow distribution were evaluated using two in situ sites in an alpine region [Niwot Ridge in Colorado and the Glacier Lakes Ecological Experiments Station (GLEES) in Wyoming] and the corresponding grid cells of the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). Temperature, precipitation, and wind speed variables were used to assess blowing-snow trends at annual, seasonal, and daily scales. The correlation between NARR and in situ datasets showed that temperature data were correlated but that wind speed and precipitation were not. NARR wind speed data were systematically lower when compared with in situ data, yet the frequency of wind events was captured. Overall, there were not many significant differences between NARR and in situ wind speed trends at annual, seasonal, and daily scales, aside from GLEES daily values. This finding held true even when trends presented opposite signatures and slopes, which was likely a result of low trend slopes. The lack of agreement between datasets prohibited the use of NARR to broaden analyses for blowing-snow dynamics in alpine regions.

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Emanuel Dutra, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Pedro Viterbo, Pedro M. A. Miranda, Anton Beljaars, Christoph Schär, and Kelly Elder

Abstract

A new snow scheme for the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) land surface model has been tested and validated. The scheme includes a new parameterization of snow density, incorporating a liquid water reservoir, and revised formulations for the subgrid snow cover fraction and snow albedo. Offline validation (covering a wide range of spatial and temporal scales) includes simulations for several observation sites from the Snow Models Intercomparison Project-2 (SnowMIP2) and global simulations driven by the meteorological forcing from the Global Soil Wetness Project-2 (GSWP2) and by ECMWF Re-Analysis ERA-Interim. The new scheme reduces the end of season ablation biases from 10 to 2 days in open areas and from 21 to 13 days in forest areas. Global GSWP2 results are compared against basin-scale runoff and terrestrial water storage. The new snow density parameterization increases the snow thermal insulation, reducing soil freezing and leading to an improved hydrological cycle. Simulated snow cover fraction is compared against NOAA/National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) with a reduction of the negative bias of snow-covered area of the original snow scheme. The original snow scheme had a systematic negative bias in surface albedo when compared against Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) remote sensing data. The new scheme reduces the albedo bias, consequently reducing the spatial- and time-averaged surface net shortwave radiation bias by 5.2 W m−2 in 14% of the Northern Hemisphere land. The new snow scheme described in this paper was introduced in the ECMWF operational forecast system in September 2009 (cycle 35R3).

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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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Robert E. Davis, Thomas H. Painter, Rick Forster, Don Cline, Richard Armstrong, Terry Haran, Kyle McDonald, and Kelly Elder

Abstract

This paper describes satellite data collected as part of the 2002/03 Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX). These data include multispectral and hyperspectral optical imaging, and passive and active microwave observations of the test areas. The CLPX multispectral optical data include the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), the Landsat Thematic Mapper/Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (TM/ETM+), the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and the Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR). The spaceborne hyperspectral optical data consist of measurements acquired with the NASA Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) Hyperion imaging spectrometer. The passive microwave data include observations from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) and the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR) for Earth Observing System (EOS; AMSR-E). Observations from the Radarsat synthetic aperture radar and the SeaWinds scatterometer flown on QuikSCAT make up the active microwave data.

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Don Cline, Simon Yueh, Bruce Chapman, Boba Stankov, Al Gasiewski, Dallas Masters, Kelly Elder, Richard Kelly, Thomas H. Painter, Steve Miller, Steve Katzberg, and Larry Mahrt

Abstract

This paper describes the airborne data collected during the 2002 and 2003 Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX). These data include gamma radiation observations, multi- and hyperspectral optical imaging, optical altimetry, and passive and active microwave observations of the test areas. The gamma observations were collected with the NOAA/National Weather Service Gamma Radiation Detection System (GAMMA). The CLPX multispectral optical data consist of very high-resolution color-infrared orthoimagery of the intensive study areas (ISAs) by TerrainVision. The airborne hyperspectral optical data consist of observations from the NASA Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS). Optical altimetry measurements were collected using airborne light detection and ranging (lidar) by TerrainVision. The active microwave data include radar observations from the NASA Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR), the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Polarimetric Ku-band Scatterometer (POLSCAT), and airborne GPS bistatic radar data collected with the NASA GPS radar delay mapping receiver (DMR). The passive microwave data consist of observations collected with the NOAA Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer (PSR). All of the airborne datasets described here and more information describing data collection and processing are available online.

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Janet Hardy, Robert Davis, Yeohoon Koh, Don Cline, Kelly Elder, Richard Armstrong, Hans-Peter Marshall, Thomas Painter, Gilles Castres Saint-Martin, Roger DeRoo, Kamal Sarabandi, Tobias Graf, Toshio Koike, and Kyle McDonald

Abstract

The local scale observation site (LSOS) is the smallest study site (0.8 ha) of the 2002/03 Cold Land Processes Experiment (CLPX) and is located within the Fraser mesocell study area. It was the most intensively measured site of the CLPX, and measurements here had the greatest temporal component of all CLPX sites. Measurements made at the LSOS were designed to produce a comprehensive assessment of the snow, soil, and vegetation characteristics viewed by the ground-based remote sensing instruments. The objective of the ground-based microwave remote sensing was to collect time series of active and passive microwave spectral signatures over snow, soil, and forest, which is coincident with the intensive physical characterization of these features. Ground-based remote sensing instruments included frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radars operating over multiple microwave bandwidths; the Ground-Based Microwave Radiometer (GBMR-7) operating at channels 18.7, 23.8, 36.5, and 89 GHz; and in 2003, an L-, C-, X- and Ku-band scatterometer radar system. Snow and soil measurements included standard snow physical properties, snow wetness, snow depth transects, and soil moisture. The stem and canopy temperature and xylem sap flux of several trees were monitored continuously. Five micrometeorological towers monitored ambient conditions and provided forcing datasets for 1D snow and soil models. Arrays of pyranometers (0.3–3 μm) and a scanning thermal radiometer (8–12 μm) characterized the variability of radiative receipt in the forests. A field spectroradiometer measured the hyperspectral hemispherical-directional reflectance of the snow surface. These measurements, together with the ground-based remote sensing, provide the framework for evaluating and improving microwave radiative transfer models and coupling them to land surface models. The dataset is archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

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