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Numerical Simulation of Sensitivities of Snow Melting to Spectral Composition of the Incoming Solar Radiation


doi: 10.1007/s00376-009-0403-7

  • Snow albedo is an important factor influencing the snow surface energy budget and snow melting, yet uncertainties remain in the calculation of spectrally resolved snow surface albedo because the spectral composition (visible versus near infrared) of the incident solar radiation is seldom available. The influence of the spectral composition of the incoming solar radiation on the snow surface albedo, snow surface energy budget, and final snow ablation is investigated through sensitivity experiments of four snow seasons at two open sites in the Alps by using a multi-layer Snow-Atmosphere-Soil-Transfer scheme (SAST). Since the snow albedo in the near infrared (NIR) spectral band is significantly lower than that in the visible (VIS) band, and almost the entire NIR part of the solar radiation is absorbed in the top layer of the snow pack, given a fixed amount of incoming solar radiation, a lower VIS/NIR ratio implies that more NIR radiation is reaching the ground surface and more is absorbed by the top layer of the snow pack, therefore, speeding up the snow melting and increasing the surface runoff, although a lesser part of the solar radiation in the visible band is transmitted into and trapped by the sub-layer of the snow pack. The above VIS/NIR ratio effect of the incoming solar radiation can result in a couple of days difference in the timing of snow ablation and it becomes more significant in late spring when the total solar radiation is intensified with seasonal evolution. Snow aging also slightly intensifies this VIS/NIR ratio effect.
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Manuscript History

Manuscript received: 10 May 2009
Manuscript revised: 10 May 2009
通讯作者: 陈斌, bchen63@163.com
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Numerical Simulation of Sensitivities of Snow Melting to Spectral Composition of the Incoming Solar Radiation

  • 1. Laboratory for Climate Studies, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081; National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration, Beijing 100081;Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029;Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029;Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085

Abstract: Snow albedo is an important factor influencing the snow surface energy budget and snow melting, yet uncertainties remain in the calculation of spectrally resolved snow surface albedo because the spectral composition (visible versus near infrared) of the incident solar radiation is seldom available. The influence of the spectral composition of the incoming solar radiation on the snow surface albedo, snow surface energy budget, and final snow ablation is investigated through sensitivity experiments of four snow seasons at two open sites in the Alps by using a multi-layer Snow-Atmosphere-Soil-Transfer scheme (SAST). Since the snow albedo in the near infrared (NIR) spectral band is significantly lower than that in the visible (VIS) band, and almost the entire NIR part of the solar radiation is absorbed in the top layer of the snow pack, given a fixed amount of incoming solar radiation, a lower VIS/NIR ratio implies that more NIR radiation is reaching the ground surface and more is absorbed by the top layer of the snow pack, therefore, speeding up the snow melting and increasing the surface runoff, although a lesser part of the solar radiation in the visible band is transmitted into and trapped by the sub-layer of the snow pack. The above VIS/NIR ratio effect of the incoming solar radiation can result in a couple of days difference in the timing of snow ablation and it becomes more significant in late spring when the total solar radiation is intensified with seasonal evolution. Snow aging also slightly intensifies this VIS/NIR ratio effect.

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