Articles | Volume 14, issue 6
28 Jun 2010
 | 28 Jun 2010

A triple-moment blowing snow-atmospheric model and its application in computing the seasonal wintertime snow mass budget

J. Yang, M. K. Yau, X. Fang, and J. W. Pomeroy

Abstract. Many field studies have shown that surface sublimation and blowing snow transport and sublimation have significant influences on the snow mass budget in many high latitude regions. We developed a coupled triple-moment blowing snow-atmospheric modeling system to study the influence of these processes on a seasonal time scale over the Northern Hemisphere. Two simulations were performed. The first is a 5 month simulation for comparison with snow survey measurements over a Saskatchewan site to validate the modeling system. The second simulation covers the 2006/2007 winter period to study the snow mass budget over the Northern Hemisphere. The results show that surface sublimation is significant in Eurasian Continent and the eastern region of North America, reaching a maximum value of 200 mm SWE (Snow Water Equivalent). Over the Arctic Ocean and Northern Canada, surface deposition with an average value of 30 mm SWE was simulated. Blowing snow sublimation was found to return up to 50 mm SWE back to the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean, while the divergence of blowing snow transport contributes only a few mm SWE to the change in snow mass budget. The results were further stratified in 10 degree latitudinal bands. The results show that surface sublimation decreases with an increase in latitude while blowing snow sublimation increases with latitude. Taken together, the surface sublimation and blowing snow processes was found to distribute 23% to 52% of winter precipitation over the three month winter season.