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Claire Magand, Agnès Ducharne, Nicolas Le Moine, and Simon Gascoin

Abstract

The Durance watershed (14 000 km2), located in the French Alps, generates 10% of French hydropower and provides drinking water to 3 million people. The Catchment land surface model (CLSM), a distributed land surface model (LSM) with a multilayer, physically based snow model, has been applied in the upstream part of this watershed, where snowfall accounts for 50% of the precipitation. The CLSM subdivides the upper Durance watershed, where elevations range from 800 to 4000 m within 3580 km2, into elementary catchments with an average area of 500 km2. The authors first show the difference between the dynamics of the accumulation and ablation of the snow cover using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images and snow-depth measurements. The extent of snow cover increases faster during accumulation than during ablation because melting occurs at preferential locations. This difference corresponds to the presence of a hysteresis in the snow-cover depletion curve of these catchments, and the CLSM was adapted by implementing such a hysteresis in the snow-cover depletion curve of the model. Different simulations were performed to assess the influence of the parameterizations on the water budget and the evolution of the extent of the snow cover. Using six gauging stations, the authors demonstrate that introducing a hysteresis in the snow-cover depletion curve improves melting dynamics. They conclude that their adaptation of the CLSM contributes to a better representation of snowpack dynamics in an LSM that enables mountainous catchments to be modeled for impact studies such as those of climate change.

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Lucia Scaff, Jose A. Rutllant, David Rahn, Simon Gascoin, and Roberto Rondanelli

Abstract

To better forecast streamflow and water resource availability, it is important to have an understanding of the meteorological drivers of the orographic precipitation gradient (OPG), especially critical in semiarid mountainous areas. Although forced ascent over topography typically results in precipitation increasing with altitude (positive OPGs), mean annual OPGs and especially OPGs associated with individual storms can change widely in magnitude and even sign. Precipitation measurements from the Elqui Valley in the semiarid Andes of Chile (30°S) reveal a mean annual OPG of 6.3 mm km−1 (millimeters of precipitation over kilometers in elevation) ranging from −42 to 52 mm km−1 for individual storms over the last 35 years (1979–2013). Reanalysis data and precipitation measurements are used to characterize the observed OPG in this region in relation with their synoptic-scale flow. It is found that the Froude number correlates positively with the OPG, reflecting stronger zonal winds and less static stability during storms that have positive OPGs. Altitude of the Andes barrier jet shows only a weak relationship with the OPG. Significant storms with positive OPGs are typically linked with an austral blocking of the westerlies and an equatorward migration of the midlatitude storm track. For negative OPGs, either a cutoff low or the northern edge of a surface migratory cyclone reaches the Elqui Valley in such a way that significant rainfall only occurs in the near-coastal region without major snowfall accumulation over the Andes.

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Aaron Boone, Patricia de Rosnay, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Anton Beljaars, Franck Chopin, Bertrand Decharme, Christine Delire, Agnes Ducharne, Simon Gascoin, Manuela Grippa, Françoise Guichard, Yeugeniy Gusev, Phil Harris, Lionel Jarlan, Laurent Kergoat, Eric Mougin, Olga Nasonova, Anette Norgaard, Tristan Orgeval, Catherine Ottlé, Isabelle Poccard-Leclercq, Jan Polcher, Inge Sandholt, Stephane Saux-Picart, Christopher Taylor, and Yongkang Xue

The rainfall over West Africa has been characterized by extreme variability in the last half-century, with prolonged droughts resulting in humanitarian crises. There is, therefore, an urgent need to better understand and predict the West African monsoon (WAM), because social stability in this region depends to a large degree on water resources. The economies are primarily agrarian, and there are issues related to food security and health. In particular, there is a need to better understand land-atmosphere and hydrological processes over West Africa because of their potential feedbacks with the WAM. This is being addressed through a multiscale modeling approach using an ensemble of land surface models that rely on dedicated satellite-based forcing and land surface parameter products, and data from the African Multidisciplinary Monsoon Analysis (AMMA) observational field campaigns. The AMMA land surface model (LSM) Intercomparison Project (ALMIP) offline, multimodel simulations comprise the equivalent of a multimodel reanalysis product. They currently represent the best estimate of the land surface processes over West Africa from 2004 to 2007. An overview of model intercomparison and evaluation is presented. The far-reaching goal of this effort is to obtain better understanding and prediction of the WAM and the feedbacks with the surface. This can be used to improve water management and agricultural practices over this region.

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