Quantifying Snow Mass Mission Concept Trade-Offs Using an Observing System Simulation Experiment

Garnaud, Camille ; Bélair, Stéphane ; Carrera, Marco L. ; Derksen, Chris ; Bilodeau, Bernard ; Abrahamowicz, Maria ; Gauthier, Nathalie ; Vionnet, Vincent

Année de publication
Because of its location, Canada is particularly affected by snow processes and their impact on the atmosphere and hydrosphere. Yet, snow mass observations that are ongoing, global, frequent (1-5 days), and at high enough spatial resolution (kilometer scale) for assimilation within operational prediction systems are presently not available. Recently, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) partnered with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to initiate a radar-focused snow mission concept study to define spaceborne technological solutions to this observational gap. In this context, an Observing System Simulation Experiment (OSSE) was performed to determine the impact of sensor configuration, snow water equivalent (SWE) retrieval performance, and snow wet/dry state on snow analyses from the Canadian Land Data Assimilation System (CaLDAS). The synthetic experiment shows that snow analyses are strongly sensitive to revisit frequency since more frequent assimilation leads to a more constrained land surface model. The greatest reduction in spatial (temporal) bias is from a 1-day revisit frequency with a 91% (93%) improvement. Temporal standard deviation of the error (STDE) is mostly reduced by a greater retrieval accuracy with a 65% improvement, while a 1-day revisit reduces the temporal STDE by 66%. The inability to detect SWE under wet snow conditions is particularly impactful during the spring meltdown, with an increase in spatial RMSE of up to 50 mm. Wet snow does not affect the domain-wide annual maximum SWE nor the timing of end-of-season snowmelt timing in this case, indicating that radar measurements, although uncertain during melting events, are very useful in adding skill to snow analyses.
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