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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-90
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Mar 2018

Research article | 06 Mar 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

A simple model for local scale sensible and latent heat advection contributions to snowmelt

Phillip Harder1, John W. Pomeroy1, and Warren D. Helgason1,2 Phillip Harder et al.
  • 1Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 2Department of Civil, Geological, and Environmental Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Abstract. Local-scale advection of energy from warm snow-free surfaces to cold snow-covered surfaces is an important component of the energy balance during snowcover depletion. Unfortunately, this process is difficult to quantify in one-dimensional snowmelt models. This manuscript proposes a simple sensible and latent heat advection model for snowmelt situations that can be readily coupled to one-dimensional energy balance snowmelt models. An existing advection parameterization was coupled to a conceptual frozen soil infiltration surface water retention model to estimate the areal average sensible and latent heat advection contributions to snowmelt. The proposed model compared well with observations of latent and sensible heat advection providing confidence in the process parameterizations and the assumptions applied. Snowcovered area observations from unmanned aerial vehicle imagery were used to update and evaluate the scaling properties of snow patch area distribution and lengths. Model dynamics and snowmelt implications were explored within an idealized modelling experiment, by coupling to a one-dimensional energy balance snowmelt model. Dry, snow-free surfaces were associated with negative latent heat advection fluxes that compensated for positive sensible heat advection fluxes and so limited the net influence of advection on snowmelt. Latent and sensible heat advection fluxes both contributed positive fluxes to snow when snow-free surfaces were wet and enhanced net advection contributions to snowmelt. The increased net advection fluxes from wet surfaces typically develop towards the end of snowmelt and offset decreases in the one-dimensional areal average melt energy that declines with snowcovered area. The new model can be readily incorporated into existing one-dimensional snowmelt hydrology and land surface scheme models and will foster improvements in snowmelt understanding and predictions.

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As snowcover becomes patchy during snowmelt, energy is advected from warm snow-free surfaces to cold snowcovered surfaces. This manuscript proposes a simple sensible and latent heat advection model for snowmelt situations that can be coupled to one-dimensional energy balance snowmelt models. The model demonstrates that sensible and latent heat advection fluxes can compensate for one another, especially in early melt periods.
As snowcover becomes patchy during snowmelt, energy is advected from warm snow-free surfaces to...
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