An Intercomparison of Three Snow Schemes of Varying Complexity Coupled to the Same Land Surface Model: Local-Scale Evaluation at an Alpine Site

Boone, Aaron ; Etchevers, Pierre

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<p align=justify>The Interactions between Soil, Biosphere, and Atmosphere land surface scheme is currently used coupled both to atmospheric models and to a distributed hydrological model. There are two snow-scheme options available for hydrological modeling: the baseline force-restore approach, which uses a composite snow-soil-vegetation energy budget and a single snow layer; and a multilayer detailed internal-process snow model. Only the force-restore method is routinely used in atmospheric modeling applications. Recent studies have shown that hydrological simulations for mountainous catchments within the Rhone basin, France, are significantly improved using the detailed snow scheme. The main drawback is that the scheme is computationally expensive, and it is not currently feasible for routine application in atmospheric models. For these reasons, a third new intermediate-complexity scheme has been developed that includes certain key physical processes from the complex model for improved snowpack realism and hydrological depiction while attemping to keep computational requirements similar to those of the simple default scheme. In the current study, the new scheme is described, evaluated, and compared with the results from the two other schemes at a local scale at an alpine site located within the Rhone basin for two contrasting (weather) years. All schemes are able to model the basic features of the snow cover with similar errors averaged over the 2-yr period; however, there are important differences on shorter timescales. When compared with the more complex scheme, it was found that differing surface energy budget parameterizations (turbulent transfer, albedo) were the cause for the largest differences in total snowpack snow water equivalent (SWE) simulated by the models. When compared with the simple scheme, the ability for the intermediate model to simulate snow ripening resulted in the largest differences in simulated SWE and snow temperature during melt and runoff.</p>
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