Modeling the Snowpack Energy Balance during Melt under Exposed Crop Stubble

Phillip Harder, Warren Helgason, John W. Pomeroy

Abstract On the Canadian Prairies, agricultural practices result in millions of hectares of standing crop stubble that gradually emerges during snowmelt. The importance of stubble in trapping wind-blown snow and retaining winter snowfall has been well demonstrated. However, stubble is not explicitly accounted for in hydrological or energy balance snowmelt models. This paper relates measurable stubble parameters (height, width, areal density, and albedo) to the snowpack energy balance and snowmelt with the new, physically based Stubble–Snow–Atmosphere Model (SSAM). Novel process representations of SSAM quantify the attenuation of shortwave radiation by exposed stubble, the sky and vegetation view factors needed to solve longwave radiation terms, and a resistance scheme for stubble–snow–atmosphere fluxes to solve for surface temperatures and turbulent fluxes. SSAM results were compared to observations of radiometric snow-surface temperature, stubble temperature, snow-surface solar irradiance, areal-average turbulent fluxes, and snow water equivalent from two intensive field campaigns during snowmelt in 2015 and 2016 over wheat and canola stubble in Saskatchewan, Canada. Uncalibrated SSAM simulations compared well with these observations, providing confidence in the model structure and parameterization. A sensitivity analysis conducted using SSAM revealed compensatory relationships in energy balance terms that result in a small increase in net snowpack energy as stubble exposure increases.
Phillip Harder, Warren Helgason, and John W. Pomeroy. 2018. Modeling the Snowpack Energy Balance during Melt under Exposed Crop Stubble. Journal of Hydrometeorology, Volume 19, Issue 7, 19(7):1191–1214.
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