SnowSTAR2002 transect reconstruction using a multilayered energy and mass balance snow model

Shi, Xiaogang and Sturm, Matthew and Liston, Glen E. and Jordan, Rachel E. and Lettenmaier, Dennis P. (2009) SnowSTAR2002 transect reconstruction using a multilayered energy and mass balance snow model. Journal of Hydrometeorology, 10 (5). pp. 1151-1167. ISSN 1525-755X

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The lateral and vertical variability of snow stratigraphy was investigated through the comparison of the measured profiles of snow density, temperature, and grain size obtained during the Snow Science Traverse-Alaska Region (SnowSTAR2002) 1200-km transect from Nome to Barrow with model reconstructions from the Snow Thermal Model (SNTHERM), a multilayered energy and mass balance snow model. Model profiles were simulated at the SnowSTAR2002 observation sites using the 40-yr European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Re-Analysis (ERA-40) as meteorological forcing. ERA-40 precipitation was rescaled so that the total snow water equivalent (SWE) on the SnowSTAR2002 observation dates equaled the observed values. The mean absolute error (MAE) of measured and simulated snow properties shows that SNTHERM was able to produce good simulations for snowpack temperature but larger errors for grain size and density. A spatial similarity analysis using semivariograms of measured profiles shows that there is diverse lateral and vertical variability for snow properties along the SnowSTAR2002 transect resulting from differences in initial snow deposition, influenced by wind, vegetation, topography, and postdepositional mechanical and thermal metamorphism. The correlation length in snow density (42 km) is quite low, whereas it is slightly longer for snow grain size (125 km) and longer still for snow temperature (130 km). An important practical question that the observed and reconstructed profiles allow to be addressed is the implications of model errors in the observed snow properties for simulated microwave emissions signatures. The Microwave Emission Model for Layered Snowpacks (MEMLS) was used to simulate 19- and 37-GHz brightness temperatures. Comparison of SNTHERM-MEMLS and SnowSTAR2002-MEMLS brightness temperatures showed a very good match occurs at 19 GHz [a root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 1.5 K (8.7 K) for vertical (horizontal) polarization] and somewhat larger [5.9 K (6.2 K) for vertical (horizontal) polarization] at 37 GHz. These results imply that the simulation of snow microphysical profiles is a viable strategy for passive microwave satellite-based retrievals of SWE.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Hydrometeorology
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02 Jan 2018 09:20
Last Modified:
20 Sep 2023 01:07