ISBA-MEB (SURFEX v8.1): model snow evaluation for local-scale forest sites

Napoly, Adrien ; Boone, Aaron ; Welfringer, Théo

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<p align=justify>Accurate modeling of the effect of snow cover on the surface energy and mass fluxes is required from land surface models. The Interactions between Soil-Biosphere-Atmosphere (ISBA) model uses a composite soil-vegetation approach that has limitations when representing snow and soil phase change processes in areas of high vegetation cover since it does not explicitly represent the snowpack lying on the ground below the canopy. In particular, previous studies using ISBA have pointed out that the snowpack ablation tends to occur to early in the season in forest regions in the Northern Hemisphere. The multi-energy balance (MEB) version of ISBA has been developed recently, to a large degree, to address this issue. A vegetation layer, which is distinct from the soil, has been added to ISBA and new processes are now explicitly represented, such as snow interception and an understory litter layer. To evaluate the behavior of this new scheme in a cold forested region, long-term offline simulations have been performed for the three BERMS forest sites located in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is shown that the new scheme leads to an improved energy budget representation, especially in terms of the ground and sensible heat fluxes, with decreases in root-mean-square error (RMSE) of 77 % and 18 %, respectively. A positive impact for soil temperatures, consistent with the improvement of the ground heat flux, is obtained, particularly in terms of bias, which is reduced from −6.2 to −0.1 K at a 10 cm soil depth on average for the three sites and 12 studied years. The impact of using MEB on the snowpack simulation is a better agreement with observations during the snow season, especially concerning the last day of snow in the season: errors are on the order of 1 d averaged over the three sites and all of the years using MEB, which represents a reduction in error of 20 d compared to the composite scheme. The analysis shows that this improvement is mostly caused by the ability of MEB to represent a snowpack that nearly completely covers the soil below the canopy and that decouples the soil from the atmosphere, while keeping a close coupling between the vegetation and the atmosphere.</p>
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