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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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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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Yves Lejeune, Ludovic Bouilloud, Pierre Etchevers, Patrick Wagnon, Pierre Chevallier, Jean-Emmanuel Sicart, Eric Martin, and Florence Habets

Abstract

To determine the physical processes involved in the melting and disappearance of transient snow cover in nonglacierized tropical areas, the CROCUS snow model, interactions between Soil–Biosphere–Atmosphere (ISBA) land surface model, and coupled ISBA/CROCUS model have been applied to a full set of meteorological data recorded at 4795 m MSL on a moraine area in Bolivia (16°17′S, 68°32′W) between 14 May 2002 and 15 July 2003. The models have been adapted to tropical conditions, in particular the high level of incident solar radiation throughout the year. As long as a suitable function is included to represent the mosaic partitioning of the surface between snow cover and bare ground and local fresh snow grain type (as graupel) is adapted, the ISBA and ISBA/CROCUS models can accurately simulate snow behavior over nonglacierized natural surfaces in the Tropics. Incident solar radiation is responsible for efficient melting of the snow surface (favored by fresh snow albedo values usually not exceeding 0.8) and also for the energy stored in snow-free areas (albedo = 0.18) and transferred horizontally to adjacent snow patches. These horizontal energy transfers (by conduction within the upper soil layers and by turbulent advection) explain most of the snowmelt and prevent the snow cover from lasting more than a few days during the wet season in this high-altitude tropical environment.

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