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The Representation of Snow In Land Surface Schemes: Results From PILPS 2(D)


Twenty-one land surface schemes (LSSs) performed simulations forced by 18 yr of observed meteorological data from a grassland catchment at Valdai. Russia, as part of the Project for the Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes (PILPS) Phase 2(d). In this paper the authors examine the simulation of snow. In comparison with observations, the models are able to capture the broad features of the snow regime on both an intra- and interannual basis. However, weaknesses in the simulations exist, and early season ablation events are a significant source of model scatter. Over the 18-yr simulation, systematic differences between the models' snow simulations are evident and reveal specific aspects of snow model parameterization and design as being responsible. Vapor exchange at the snow surface varies widely among the models, ranging from a large net loss to a small net source for the snow season. Snow albedo, fractional snow cover, and their interplay have a large effect on energy available for ablation, with differences among models most evident at low snow depths. The incorporation of the snowpack within an LSS structure affects the method by which snow accesses, as well as utilizes, available energy for ablation. The sensitivity of some models to longwave radiation, the dominant winter radiative flux, is partly due to a stability-induced feedback and the differing abilities of models to exchange turbulent energy with the atmosphere. Results presented in this paper suggest where weaknesses in macroscale snow modeling lie and where both theoretical and observational work should he focused to address these weaknesses.

Article / Publication Data
Available Metadata
Fiscal Year
Peer Reviewed
Publication Name
Journal of Hydrometeorology
Published On
February 01, 2001
Publisher Name
American Meteorological Society
Print Volume
Print Number


Not available


Authors who have authored or contributed to this publication.