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Comparison of methods for quantifying surface sublimation over seasonally snow-covered terrain

Hydrological Processes

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https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.10864

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Abstract

Snow sublimation can be an important component of the snow-cover mass balance, and there is considerable interest in quantifying the role of this process within the water and energy balance of snow-covered regions. In recent years, robust eddy covariance (EC) instrumentation has been used to quantify snow sublimation over snow-covered surfaces in complex mountainous terrain. However, EC can be challenging for monitoring turbulent fluxes in snow-covered environments because of intensive data, power, and fetch requirements, and alternative methods of estimating snow sublimation are often relied upon. To evaluate the relative merits of methods for quantifying surface sublimation, fluxes calculated by the EC, Bowen ratio–energy balance (BR), bulk aerodynamic flux (BF), and aerodynamic profile (AP) methods and their associated uncertainty were compared at two forested openings in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Biases between methods are evaluated over a range of environmental conditions, and limitations of each method are discussed. Mean surface sublimation rates from both sites ranged from 0.33 to 0.36 mm day−1, 0.14 to 0.37 mm day−1, 0.10 to 0.17 mm day−1, and 0.03 to 0.10 mm day−1 for the EC, BR, BF and AP methods, respectively. The EC and/or BF methods are concluded to be superior for estimating surface sublimation in snow-covered forested openings. The surface sublimation rates quantified in this study are generally smaller in magnitude compared with previously published studies in this region and help to refine sublimation estimates for forested openings in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Comparison of methods for quantifying surface sublimation over seasonally snow-covered terrain
Series title:
Hydrological Processes
DOI:
10.1002/hyp.10864
Volume:
30
Issue:
19
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
Wiley
Contributing office(s):
Colorado Water Science Center
Description:
17 p.
First page:
3373
Last page:
3389