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A snow-transport model for complex terrain

  • Glen E. Liston (a1) and Matthew Sturm (a2)

Abstract

As part of the winter environment in middle- and high-latitude regions, the interactions between wind, vegetation, topography and snowfall produce snow covers of non-uniform depth and snow water-equivalent distribution. A physically based numerical snow-transport model (SnowTran-3D) is developed and used to simulate this three-dimensional snow-depth evolution over topographically variable terrain. The mass-transport model includes processes related to vegetation snow-holding capacity, topographic modification of wind speeds, snow-cover shear strength, wind-induced surface-shear stress, snow transport resulting from saltation and suspension, snow accumulation and erosion, and sublimation of the blowing and drifting snow. The model simulates the cold-season evolution of snow-depth distribution when forced with inputs of vegetation type and topography, and atmospheric foreings of air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and precipitation. Model outputs include the spatial and temporal evolution of snow depth resulting from variations in precipitation, saltation and suspension transport, and sublimation. Using 4 years of snow-depth distribution observations from the foothills north of the Brooks Range in Arctic Alaska, the model is found to simulate closely the observed snow-depth distribution patterns and the interannual variability.

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Copyright

References

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