Laurent Arnaud


DOI bib
Towards the assimilation of satellite reflectance into semi-distributed ensemble snowpack simulations
Bertrand Cluzet, Jesús Revuelto, Matthieu Lafaysse, François Tuzet, Emmanuel Cosme, Ghislain Picard, Laurent Arnaud, Marie Dumont
Cold Regions Science and Technology, Volume 170

Abstract Uncertainties of snowpack models and of their meteorological forcings limit their use by avalanche hazard forecasters, or for glaciological and hydrological studies. The spatialized simulations currently available for avalanche hazard forecasting are only assimilating sparse meteorological observations. As suggested by recent studies, their forecasting skills could be significantly improved by assimilating satellite data such as snow reflectances from satellites in the visible and the near-infrared spectra. Indeed, these data can help constrain the microstructural properties of surface snow and light absorbing impurities content, which in turn affect the surface energy and mass budgets. This paper investigates the prerequisites of satellite data assimilation into a detailed snowpack model. An ensemble version of Meteo-France operational snowpack forecasting system (named S2M) was built for this study. This operational system runs on topographic classes instead of grid points, so-called ‘semi-distributed’ approach. Each class corresponds to one of the 23 mountain massifs of the French Alps (about 1000 km2 each), an altitudinal range (by step of 300 m) and aspect (by step of 45°). We assess the feasability of satellite data assimilation in such a semi-distributed geometry. Ensemble simulations are compared with satellite observations from MODIS and Sentinel-2, and with in-situ reflectance observations. The study focuses on the 2013–2014 and 2016–2017 winters in the Grandes-Rousses massif. Substantial Pearson R2 correlations (0.75–0.90) of MODIS observations with simulations are found over the domain. This suggests that assimilating it could have an impact on the spatialized snowpack forecasting system. However, observations contain significant biases (0.1–0.2 in reflectance) which prevent their direct assimilation. MODIS spectral band ratios seem to be much less biased. This may open the way to an operational assimilation of MODIS reflectances into the Meteo-France snowpack modelling system.