Articles | Volume 18, issue 9
Research article
10 Sep 2014
Research article |  | 10 Sep 2014

Evaluating the Utah Energy Balance (UEB) snow model in the Noah land-surface model

R. Sultana, K.-L. Hsu, J. Li, and S. Sorooshian

Abstract. Noah (version 2.7.1), the community land-surface model (LSM) of National Centers for Environmental Predictions-National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP-NCAR), which is widely used to describe the land-surface processes either in stand-alone or in coupled land-atmospheric model systems, is recognized to underestimate snow–water equivalent (SWE). Noah's SWE bias can be attributed to its simple snow sub-model, which does not effectively describe the physical processes during snow accumulation and melt period. To improve SWE simulation in the Noah LSM, the Utah Energy Balance (UEB) snow model is implemented in Noah to test alternate snow surface temperature and snowmelt outflow schemes. Snow surface temperature was estimated using the force-restore method and snowmelt event is regulated by accounting for the internal energy of the snowpack. The modified Noah's SWE simulations are compared with the SWE observed at California's NRCS SNOTEL stations for 7 water years: 2002–2008, while the model's snow surface temperature is verified with observed surface-temperature data at an observation site in Utah. The experiments show that modification in Noah's snow process substantially reduced SWE estimation bias while keeping the simplicity of the Noah LSM. The results suggest that the model did not benefit from the alternate temperature representation but primary improvement can be attributed to the substituted snowmelt process.