Propagating information from snow observations with CrocO ensemble data assimilation system: a 10-years case study over a snow depth observation network

Cluzet, Bertrand ; Lafaysse, Matthieu ; Deschamps-Berger, César ; Vernay, Matthieu ; Dumont, Marie

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<p align=justify>The mountainous snow cover is highly variable at all temporal and spatial scales. Snowpack models only imperfectly represent this variability, because of uncertain meteorological inputs, physical parameterizations, and unresolved terrain features. In situ observations of the height of snow (HS), despite their limited representativeness, could help constrain intermediate and large-scale modeling errors by means of data assimilation. In this work, we assimilate HS observations from an in situ network of 295 stations covering the French Alps, Pyrenees, and Andorra, over the period 2009-2019. In view of assimilating such observations into a spatialized snow cover modeling framework, we investigate whether such observations can be used to correct neighboring snowpack simulations. We use CrocO, an ensemble data assimilation framework of snow cover modeling, based on a particle filter suited to the propagation of information from observed to unobserved areas. This ensemble system already benefits from meteorological observations, assimilated within SAFRAN analysis scheme. CrocO also proposes various localization strategies to assimilate snow observations. These approaches are evaluated in a leave-one-out setup against the operational deterministic model and its ensemble open-loop counterpart, both running without HS assimilation. Results show that an intermediate localization radius of 35-50 km yields a slightly lower root mean square error (RMSE), and a better spread-skill than the strategy of assimilating all the observations from a whole mountain range. Significant continuous ranked probability score (CRPS) improvements of about 13 % are obtained in the areas where the open-loop modeling errors are the largest, e.g., the Haute-Ariège, Andorra, and the extreme southern Alps. Over these areas, weather station observations are generally sparser, resulting in more uncertain meteorological analyses and, therefore, snow simulations. In situ HS observations thus show an interesting complementarity with meteorological observations to better constrain snow cover simulations over large areas.</p>
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