Seasonal Snow
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2022 ◽  
Vol 13 (3) ◽  
pp. 269-278
Chang Liu ◽  
Zhen Li ◽  
Ping Zhang ◽  
Zhipeng Wu

2021 ◽  
Vol 15 (11) ◽  
pp. 5261-5280
Yufei Liu ◽  
Yiwen Fang ◽  
Steven A. Margulis

Abstract. Seasonal snowpack is an essential component in the hydrological cycle and plays a significant role in supplying water resources to downstream users. Yet the snow water equivalent (SWE) in seasonal snowpacks, and its space–time variation, remains highly uncertain, especially over mountainous areas with complex terrain and sparse observations, such as in High Mountain Asia (HMA). In this work, we assessed the spatiotemporal distribution of seasonal SWE, obtained from a new 18-year HMA Snow Reanalysis (HMASR) dataset, as part of the recent NASA High Mountain Asia Team (HiMAT) effort. A Bayesian snow reanalysis scheme previously developed to assimilate satellite-derived fractional snow-covered area (fSCA) products from Landsat and MODIS platforms has been applied to develop the HMASR dataset (at a spatial resolution of 16 arcsec (∼500 m) and daily temporal resolution) over the joint Landsat–MODIS period covering water years (WYs) 2000–2017. Based on the results, the HMA-wide total SWE volume is found to be around 163 km3 on average and ranges from 114 km3 (WY2001) to 227 km3 (WY2005) when assessed over 18 WYs. The most abundant snowpacks are found in the northwestern basins (e.g., Indus, Syr Darya and Amu Darya) that are mainly affected by the westerlies, accounting for around 66 % of total seasonal SWE volume. Seasonal snowpack in HMA is depicted by snow accumulating through October to March and April, typically peaking around April and depleting in July–October, with variations across basins and WYs. When examining the elevational distribution over the HMA domain, seasonal SWE volume peaks at mid-elevations (around 3500 m), with over 50 % of the volume stored above 3500 m. Above-average amounts of precipitation causes significant overall increase in SWE volumes across all elevations, while an increase in air temperature (∼1.5 K) from cooler to normal conditions leads to an redistribution in snow storage from lower elevations to mid-elevations. This work brings new insight into understanding the climatology and variability of seasonal snowpack over HMA, with the regional snow reanalysis constrained by remote-sensing data, providing a new reference dataset for future studies of seasonal snow and how it contributes to the water cycle and climate over the HMA region.

2021 ◽  
Vol 13 (22) ◽  
pp. 4617
Ryan W. Webb ◽  
Adrian Marziliano ◽  
Daniel McGrath ◽  
Randall Bonnell ◽  
Tate G. Meehan ◽  

Extensive efforts have been made to observe the accumulation and melting of seasonal snow. However, making accurate observations of snow water equivalent (SWE) at global scales is challenging. Active radar systems show promise, provided the dielectric properties of the snowpack are accurately constrained. The dielectric constant (k) determines the velocity of a radar wave through snow, which is a critical component of time-of-flight radar techniques such as ground penetrating radar and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR). However, equations used to estimate k have been validated only for specific conditions with limited in situ validation for seasonal snow applications. The goal of this work was to further understand the dielectric permittivity of seasonal snow under both dry and wet conditions. We utilized extensive direct field observations of k, along with corresponding snow density and liquid water content (LWC) measurements. Data were collected in the Jemez Mountains, NM; Sandia Mountains, NM; Grand Mesa, CO; and Cameron Pass, CO from February 2020 to May 2021. We present empirical relationships based on 146 snow pits for dry snow conditions and 92 independent LWC observations in naturally melting snowpacks. Regression results had r2 values of 0.57 and 0.37 for dry and wet snow conditions, respectively. Our results in dry snow showed large differences between our in situ observations and commonly applied equations. We attribute these differences to assumptions in the shape of the snow grains that may not hold true for seasonal snow applications. Different assumptions, and thus different equations, may be necessary for varying snowpack conditions in different climates, suggesting that further testing is necessary. When considering wet snow, large differences were found between commonly applied equations and our in situ measurements. Many previous equations assume a background (dry snow) k that we found to be inaccurate, as previously stated, and is the primary driver of resulting uncertainty. Our results suggest large errors in SWE (10–15%) or LWC (0.05–0.07 volumetric LWC) estimates based on current equations. The work presented here could prove useful for making accurate observations of changes in SWE using future InSAR opportunities such as NISAR and ROSE-L.

Matthew Sturm ◽  
Glen E. Liston

AbstractTwenty-five years ago, we published a global seasonal snow classification now widely used in snow research, physical geography, and as a mission planning tool for remote sensing snow studies. Performing the classification requires global datasets of air temperature, precipitation, and land-cover. When introduced in 1995, the finest resolution global datasets of these variables were on a 0.5° × 0.5° latitude-longitude grid (approximately 50 km). Here we revisit the snow classification system and, using new datasets and methods, present a revised classification on a 10-arcsecond × 10-arcsecond latitude-longitude grid (approximately 300 m). We downscaled 0.1° × 0.1° latitude-longitude (approximately 10 km) gridded meteorological climatologies (1981-2019, European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts [ECMWF] ReAnalysis, 5th Generation Land [ERA5-Land]) using MicroMet, a spatially distributed, high-resolution, micro-meteorological model. The resulting air temperature and precipitation datasets were combined with European Space Agency (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) GlobCover land-cover data (as a surrogate for wind speed) to produce the updated classification, which we have applied to all of Earth’s terrestrial areas. We describe this new, high-resolution snow classification dataset, highlight the improvements added to the classification system since its inception, and discuss the utility of the climatological snow classes at this much higher resolution. The snow class dataset (Global Seasonal-Snow Classification 2.0) and the tools used to develop the data are publicly available online at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Graham A. Sexstone ◽  
Steven R. Fassnacht ◽  
Juan I. López-Moreno ◽  
Christopher A. Hiemstra

Given the substantial variability of snow in complex mountainous terrain, a considerable challenge of coarse scale modeling applications is accurately representing the subgrid variability of snowpack properties. The snow depth coefficient of variation (CVds) is a useful metric for characterizing subgrid snow distributions but has not been well defined by a parameterization for mountainous environments. This study utilizes lidar-derived snow depth datasets spanning alpine to sub-alpine mountainous terrain in Colorado, USA to evaluate the variability of subgrid snow distributions within a grid size comparable to a 1000 m resolution common for hydrologic and land surface models. The subgrid CVds exhibited a wide range of variability across the 321 km2 study area (0.15 to 2.74) and was significantly greater in alpine areas compared to subalpine areas. Mean snow depth was the dominant driver of CVds variability in both alpine and subalpine areas, as CVds decreased nonlinearly with increasing snow depths. This negative correlation is attributed to the static size of roughness elements (topography and canopy) that strongly influence seasonal snow variability. Subgrid CVds was also strongly related to topography and forest variables; important drivers of CVds included the subgrid variability of terrain exposure to wind in alpine areas and the mean and variability of forest metrics in subalpine areas. Two statistical models were developed (alpine and subalpine) for predicting subgrid CVds that show reasonable performance statistics. The methodology presented here can be used for characterizing the variability of CVds in snow-dominated mountainous regions, and highlights the utility of using lidar-derived snow datasets for improving model representations of snow processes.

2021 ◽  
Moritz Buchmann ◽  
Michael Begert ◽  
Stefan Brönnimann ◽  
Gernot Resch ◽  
Christoph Marty

<p>Measurements of snow depth and snowfall can vary dramatically over small distances. However, it is not clear if this applies to all derived variables and is the same for all seasons. Almost all meteorological time series incorporate some sort of inhomogeneities. Complete metadata and existing “parallel” stations in close proximity are not always available.<br>First, we analyse the impacts of local-scale variations based on a unique set of parallel manual snow measurements for the Swiss Alps consisting of 30 station pairs with up to 70 years of parallel data. Station pairs are mostly located in the same villages (or within 3km horizontal and 150m vertical distances). <br>Seasonal analysis of derived snow climate indicators such as maximum seasonal snow depth, sum of new snow, or days with snow on the ground shows that largest differences occur in spring and the smallest ones are found in DJF and NDJFMA. Relative inter-pair differences (uncertainties) for days with snow on the ground (average snow depth) are below 15% for 90% (30%) .<br>Second, in view of any homogenization efforts of snow data series, it is paramount to understand the impacts of inhomogeneities. Using state-of-the-art break detection algorithms, we strive to investigate which method works best for detecting breaks in snow data series. The results can then be used on time series with insufficient metadata or no neighbouring stations in order to include them in future homogenization processes.<br>Furthermore, the knowledge about inhomogeneities and breakpoints paves the way for new applications such as the reliable combination of two parallel series into one single series.</p>

2021 ◽  
Yufei Liu ◽  
Yiwen Fang ◽  
Steven A. Margulis

Abstract. Seasonal snowpack is a key water resource and plays an important role in regional climate. However, how seasonal snow mass is distributed over space and time is not fully understood. This is due to the difficulties in estimation from remote sensing or ground measurements, especially over mountainous areas, such as High-Mountain Asia (HMA). In this paper we examined the spatiotemporal distribution of seasonal snow water equivalent (SWE) over HMA using a newly developed snow reanalysis dataset. The dataset was derived using a data assimilation method constrained by satellite observed snow data, spanning across 18 water years (2000–2017), at a high spatial (~500 m) and temporal (daily) resolution. Based on the results, the climatology of seasonal SWE volume is quantified as ~163 km3 over the entire HMA region, with 66 % of that in the northwestern watersheds (e.g. Indus, Amu Darya and Syr Darya). An elevational analysis shows that seasonal SWE volume peaks at mid-elevations (~3500 m). This work should help better understanding the snowpack climatology and variability over HMA, providing insights for future studies in assessing seasonal snow and its contribution to the regional water cycle and climate.

Haleakala K. ◽  
Gebremichael M. ◽  
Dozier J. ◽  
Lettenmaier D.P.

AbstractSeasonal snow water equivalent (SWE) accumulation in California’s Sierra Nevada is primarily governed by a few orographically enhanced snowstorms. However, as air temperatures gradually rise, resulting in a shift from snow to rain, the governing processes determining SWE accumulation versus ablation become ambiguous. Using a network of 28 snow pillow measurements to represent an elevational and latitudinal gradient across the Sierra Nevada, we identify distributions of critical temperatures and corresponding storm and snowpack properties that describe how SWE accumulation varies across the range at an hourly timescale for water years 2010 through 2019. We also describe antecedent and prevailing conditions governing whether SWE accumulates or ablates during warm storms. Results show that atmospheric moisture regulates a temperature dependence of SWE accumulation. Conditions balancing precipitable water and snow formation requirements produce the most seasonal SWE, which was observed in the (low-elevation) northern and (middle-elevation) central Sierra Nevada. The high southern Sierra Nevada conservatively accumulates SWE with colder, drier air, resulting in less midwinter ablation. These differences explain a tendency for deep, low-density snowpacks to accumulate rather than ablate SWE during warm storms (having median temperatures exceeding 1.0°C), reflecting counteracting liquid storage and internal energy deficits. The storm events themselves in these cases are brief with modest moisture supplies or are otherwise followed immediately by ablation.

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