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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-270
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-270
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 03 Jan 2019

Research article | 03 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Simulated single-layer forest canopies delay Northern Hemisphere snowmelt

Markus Todt1, Nick Rutter1, Christopher G. Fletcher2, and Leanne M. Wake1 Markus Todt et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  • 2Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Abstract. Single-layer vegetation schemes have been found to overestimate diurnal cycles in longwave radiation beneath forest canopies. This study derives a correction from forest stand-scale simulations, which reduces diurnal cycles of sub-canopy longwave radiation. Correction factors are subsequently implemented in land-only simulations of the Community Land Model version 4.5 (CLM4.5) in order to assess the impact on snow cover. Nighttime underestimations of sub-canopy longwave radiation outweigh daytime overestimations, which leads to underestimated averages over the snow cover season. As a result, snow temperatures are underestimated and snowmelt is delayed in CLM4.5 across evergreen boreal forests. Increasing insolation and day length change the impact of overestimated diurnal cycles on daily average sub-canopy longwave radiation throughout the snowmelt season. Consequently, delay in snowmelt is more substantial where winters are warm and snowmelt occurs early, which results in a shortened snowmelt duration across boreal forests.

Markus Todt et al.
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Markus Todt et al.
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Short summary
Vegetation is often represented by a single layer in global land models. Studies have found deficient simulation of thermal radiation beneath forest canopies when represented by single-layer vegetation. This study corrects thermal radiation in forests for a global land model using single-layer vegetation in order to assess the effect of deficient thermal radiation on snow cover and snowmelt. Results indicate that single-layer vegetation causes snow in forests being too cold and melting too late.
Vegetation is often represented by a single layer in global land models. Studies have found...
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