Melting of Snow Cover in a Tropical Mountain Environment in Bolivia: Processes and Modeling

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

Année de publication
2007
Résumé
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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