A comprehensive, physically based model of snow accumulation, redistribution, sublimation, and melt for open and forested catchments was assembled, based on algorithms derived from hydrological process research in Russia and Canada. The model was used to evaluate the long-term snow dynamics of a forested and an agricultural catchment in northwestern Russia without calibration from snow observations. The model was run with standard meteorological variables for the two catchments, and its results were tested against regular surface observations of snow accumulation throughout the winter and spring period for 17 seasons. The results showed mean errors in comparison to observations of less than 3%% in estimating snow water equivalent during the winter and melt seasons. Snow surface evaporation and blowing snow were found to be small components of the mass balance, but intercepted snow sublimation removed notable amounts of snow over the winter from the forested catchment. Average snow accumulation was 15%% higher in the open catchment, largely due to a lack of intercepted snow sublimation. Melt rates were 23%% higher in the open than in the forest, but the effect on melt duration was suppressed by the smaller premelt accumulation in the forest. Only a moderate sensitivity of snow accumulation to forest leaf area was found, while a substantial variation was observed from season to season with changing weather patterns. This suggests that the ensemble of snow processes is more sensitive to variations in atmospheric processes than in vegetation cover. The success in using algorithms from both Canada and Russia in modeling snow dynamics suggests that there may be a potential for large-scale transferability of the modeling techniques.
Journal of Hydrometeorology – American Meteorological Society
Published: Dec 1, 2003
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