08 Jul 2020

08 Jul 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Snowpack dynamics in the Lebanese mountains from quasi-dynamically downscaled ERA5 reanalysis updated by assimilating remotely-sensed fractional snow-covered area

Esteban Alonso-González1, Ethan Gutmann2, Kristoffer Aalstad3, Abbas Fayad4, and Simon Gascoin5 Esteban Alonso-González et al.
  • 1Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología, Spanish Research Council (IPE-CSIC), Zaragoza, Spain
  • 2Research Application Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research (RAL-NCAR), Boulder, CO, United States
  • 3Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • 4Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • 5Centre d'Etudes Spatiales de la Biosphère (CESBIO), UPS/CNRS/IRD/INRA/CNES, Toulouse, France

Abstract. The snowpack over the Mediterranean mountains constitutes a key water resource for the downstream populations. However, its dynamics have not been studied in detail yet in many areas, mostly because of the scarcity of snowpack observations. In this work, we present a characterization of the snowpack over the two mountain ranges of Lebanon. To obtain the necessary snowpack information, we have developed a 1 km regional scale snow reanalysis (ICAR_assim) covering the period 2010–2017. ICAR_assim was developed by means of ensemble-based data assimilation of MODIS fractional snow-covered area (fSCA) through the energy and mass balance model the Flexible Snow Model (FSM2), using the Particle Batch Smoother (PBS). The meteorological forcing data was obtained by a regional atmospheric simulation developed through the Intermediate Complexity Atmospheric Research model (ICAR) nested inside a coarser regional simulation developed by the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF). The boundary and initial conditions of WRF were provided by the ERA5 atmospheric reanalysis. ICAR_assim showed very good agreement with MODIS gap-filled snow products, with a spatial correlation of R = 0.98 in the snow probability (P(snow)), and a temporal correlation of R = 0.88 in the day of peak snow water equivalent (SWE)Similarly, ICAR_assim has shown a correlation with the seasonal mean SWE of R = 0.75 compared with in-situ observations from Automatic Weather Stations (AWS). The results highlight the high temporal variability of the snowpack in the Lebanon ranges, with differences between Mount Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon that cannot be only explained by its hypsography been Anti-Lebanon in the rain shadow of Mount Lebanon. The maximum fresh water stored in the snowpack is in the middle elevations approximately between 2200 and 2500 m. a.s.l. Thus, the resilience to further warming is low for the snow water resources of Lebanon due to the proximity of the snowpack to the zero isotherm.

Esteban Alonso-González et al.

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Esteban Alonso-González et al.

Esteban Alonso-González et al.


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Short summary
The snow water resources, represents a key hydrological resource for the Mediterranean regions where most of the precipitation falls during the winter months. This is the case of Lebanon, where snowpack represents a 31 % of the spring flow. We have use models to generate snow information corrected by means of remote sensing snow cover retrievals. Our results highlight the high temporal variability of the snowpack in the Lebanon and its sensitivity to further warming caused by its hypsography.