Drifting snow sublimation: A high-resolution 3-D model with temperature and moisture feedbacks

The snow transport model of Alpine3D is augmented with a drifting snow sublimation routine. Contrary to other three-dimensional high-resolution snow transport models, Alpine3D now accounts for feedback mechanisms on the air temperature, humidity, and snow mass concentration in three dimensions. Results show that the negative feedbacks of sublimation on the snow mass concentration, temperature, and humidity are, in general, small but relevant on the slope scale. We analyzed the deposition on a leeward slope for simulations including sublimation and compared these to a reference simulation of the model without sublimation. Including sublimation, but neglecting sublimation feedbacks, leads to a reduction in deposition of approximately 12% on this slope. In a simulation including sublimation and its feedbacks, the reduction in snow deposition on the same slope was 10%. The feedbacks thus reduced the loss of snow due to sublimation by 2%. The sublimation process is therefore quite important for a leeward slope influenced by drifting snow. However, we also show that the spatial variability is large and that drifting snow sublimation will mainly affect small regions within a catchment. Averaged over our model domain (2.4 km(2)) in the Swiss Alps, drifting snow sublimation causes a reduction in deposition of 2.3% during a 43 h test period, which is comparable to the sublimation loss from the snow cover during the same time.

Published in:
Journal Of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 116, D16107

 Record created 2012-01-12, last modified 2018-03-17

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