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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-184
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-184
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 27 Sep 2017

Submitted as: research article | 27 Sep 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The revised manuscript was not accepted.

Distributed vs. semi-distributed simulations of snowpack dynamics in alpine areas: case study in the upper Arve catchment, French Alps, 1989–2015

Jesús Revuelto1,2, Grégoire Lecourt1, Matthieu Lafaysse1, Isabella Zin2, Luc Charrois1, Vincent Vionnet1, Marie Dumont1, Antoine Rabatel2, Delphine Six2, Thomas Condom2, Samuel Morin1, Alessandra Viani2,3, and Pascal Sirguey4 Jesús Revuelto et al.
  • 1Météo-France - CNRS, CNRM, UMR 3589, CEN, Grenoble, France
  • 2Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Institut des Géosciences de l'Environnement (IGE, UMR 5001), Grenoble, France
  • 3University of Brescia, Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture, Land, Environment and Mathematics (DICATAM), Brescia, Italy
  • 4National School of Surveying, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Abstract. We evaluated distributed and semi-distributed modeling approaches to simulating the spatial and temporal evolution of snow and ice over an extended mountain catchment, using the Crocus snowpack model. The distributed approach simulated the snowpack dynamics on a 250-m grid, enabling inclusion of terrain shadowing effects. The semi-distributed approach simulated the snowpack dynamics for discrete topographic classes characterized by elevation range, aspect, and slope. This provided a categorical simulation that was subsequently spatially re-projected over the 250-m grid used for the distributed simulations. The study area (the upper Arve catchment, western Alps, France) is characterized by complex topography, including steep slopes, an extensive glaciated area, and snow cover throughout the year. Simulations were carried out for the period 1989–2015 using the SAFRAN meteorological forcing system. The simulations were compared using four observation datasets including point snow depth measurements, seasonal and annual glacier surface mass balance, snow covered area evolution based on optical satellite sensors, and the annual equilibrium-line altitude of glacier zones, derived from satellite images. The results showed that in both approaches the Crocus snowpack model effectively reproduced the snowpack distribution over the study period. Slightly better results were obtained using the distributed approach because it included the effects of shadows and terrain characteristics.

Jesús Revuelto et al.
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Interactive discussion
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Status: closed
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Jesús Revuelto et al.
Jesús Revuelto et al.
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Short summary
We evaluated distributed and semi-distributed modeling approaches to simulating the spatial and temporal evolution of snow and ice over an extended mountain catchment, using the Crocus snowpack model. The distributed approach simulated the snowpack dynamics on a 250-m grid, enabling inclusion of terrain shadowing effects. The semi-distributed approach simulated the snowpack dynamics for discrete topographic classes characterized by elevation range, aspect, and slope.
We evaluated distributed and semi-distributed modeling approaches to simulating the spatial and...
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