Ulrich Strasser


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Operational and experimental snow observation systems in the upper Rofental: data from 2017–2020
Michael Warscher, Thomas Marke, Ulrich Strasser

Abstract. According to the living data process in ESSD, this publication presents extensions of a comprehensive hydrometeorological and glaciological data set for several research sites in the Rofental (1891–3772 m a.s.l., Ötztal Alps, Austria). Whereas the original dataset has been published in a first original version in 2018 (https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-151-2018), the new time series presented here originate from meteorological and snow-hydrological recordings that have been collected from 2017 to 2020. Some data sets represent continuations of time series at existing locations, others come from new installations complementing the scientific monitoring infrastructure in the research catchment. Main extensions are a fully equipped automatic weather and snow monitoring station, as well as extensive additional installations to enable continuous observation of snow cover properties. Installed at three high Alpine locations in the catchment, these include automatic measurements of snow depth, snow water equivalent, volumetric solid and liquid water content, snow density, layered snow temperature profiles, and snow surface temperature. One station is extended by a particular arrangement of two snow depth and water equivalent recording devices to observe and quantify wind-driven snow redistribution. They are installed at nearby wind-exposed and sheltered locations and are complemented by an acoustic-based snow drift sensor. The data sets represent a unique time series of high-altitude mountain snow and meteorology observations. We present three years of data for temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, and radiation fluxes from three meteorological stations. The continuous snow measurements are explored by combined analyses of meteorological and snow data to show typical seasonal snow cover characteristics. The potential of the snow drift observations are demonstrated with examples of measured wind speeds, snow drift rates and redistributed snow amounts in December 2019 when a tragic avalanche accident occurred in the vicinity of the station. All new data sets are provided to the scientific community according to the Creative Commons Attribution License by means of the PANGAEA repository (https://www.pangaea.de/?q=%40ref104365).

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Towards daily snowline observations on glaciers using multi-source and multi-resolution satellite data
Martina Barandun, Mattia Callegari, Ulrich Strasser, Claudia Notarnicola
Microwave Remote Sensing: Data Processing and Applications

Glacier melt is an important fresh water source. Seasonal changes can have impacting consequences on downstream water resources management. Today’s glacier monitoring lacks an observation-based tool for regional, sub-seasonal observation of glacier mass balance and a quantification of associated meltwater release at high temporal resolution. The snowline on a glacier marks the transition between the ice and snow surface, and is, at the end of the summer, a proxy for the annual glacier mass balance. It was shown that glacier mass balance model simulations closely tied to sub-seasonal snowline observations on optical satellite sensors are robust for the observation date. Recent advances in remote sensing permit efficient and extensive snowline mapping. Different methods automatically discriminate snow over ice on high- to medium-resolution optical satellite images. Other studies rely on lower ground resolution optical imagery to retrieve snow cover fraction at pixel level and produce regional maps of snow cover extent. However, state-of-the-art methods using optical sensors still have important shortcomings, such as cloud-cover related issues. Images acquired by Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which are almost insensitive to cloud coverage, have proofed suitable for transient snowline delineation. The combination of SAR and optical data in a complementary way carries a unique potential for a better monitoring of snow depletion on high temporal and spatial resolution. The aim of this work is to map snow cover over glaciers by combining Sentinel-1 SAR, Sentinel-2 multispectral and lower resolution MODIS images. Consecutively, we developed an approach that can automatically handle classification of multi-source and multi-resolution satellite image stacks. This provides a unique solution for continuous snowline mapping since the beginning of the century. With the provided close-to-daily transient snow cover fractions on glacier level, we provide the basis for a new strategy to directly integrate multi-source satellite image classification into glacier mass balance monitoring.

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Scientific and Human Errors in a Snow Model Intercomparison
Cécile B. Ménard, Richard Essery, Gerhard Krinner, Gabriele Arduini, Paul Bartlett, Aaron Boone, Claire Brutel‐Vuilmet, Eleanor Burke, Matthias Cuntz, Yongjiu Dai, Bertrand Decharme, Emanuel Dutra, Xing Fang, Charles Fierz, Yeugeniy M. Gusev, Stefan Hagemann, Vanessa Haverd, Hyungjun Kim, Matthieu Lafaysse, Thomas Marke, О. Н. Насонова, Tomoko Nitta, Michio Niwano, John W. Pomeroy, Gerd Schädler, В. А. Семенов, Tatiana G. Smirnova, Ulrich Strasser, Sean Swenson, Dmitry Turkov, Nander Wever, Hua Yuan
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 102, Issue 1

Abstract Twenty-seven models participated in the Earth System Model–Snow Model Intercomparison Project (ESM-SnowMIP), the most data-rich MIP dedicated to snow modeling. Our findings do not support the hypothesis advanced by previous snow MIPs: evaluating models against more variables and providing evaluation datasets extended temporally and spatially does not facilitate identification of key new processes requiring improvement to model snow mass and energy budgets, even at point scales. In fact, the same modeling issues identified by previous snow MIPs arose: albedo is a major source of uncertainty, surface exchange parameterizations are problematic, and individual model performance is inconsistent. This lack of progress is attributed partly to the large number of human errors that led to anomalous model behavior and to numerous resubmissions. It is unclear how widespread such errors are in our field and others; dedicated time and resources will be needed to tackle this issue to prevent highly sophisticated models and their research outputs from being vulnerable because of avoidable human mistakes. The design of and the data available to successive snow MIPs were also questioned. Evaluation of models against bulk snow properties was found to be sufficient for some but inappropriate for more complex snow models whose skills at simulating internal snow properties remained untested. Discussions between the authors of this paper on the purpose of MIPs revealed varied, and sometimes contradictory, motivations behind their participation. These findings started a collaborative effort to adapt future snow MIPs to respond to the diverse needs of the community.

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Observed snow depth trends in the European Alps: 1971 to 2019
Michael Matiu, Alice Crespi, Giacomo Bertoldi, Carlo Maria Carmagnola, Christoph Marty, Samuel Morin, Wolfgang Schöner, Daniele Cat Berro, Gabriele Chiogna, Ludovica De Gregorio, Sven Kotlarski, Bruno Majone, Gernot Resch, Silvia Terzago, Mauro Valt, Walter Beozzo, Paola Cianfarra, Isabelle Gouttevin, Giorgia Marcolini, Claudia Notarnicola, Marcello Petitta, Simon C. Scherrer, Ulrich Strasser, Michael Winkler, Marc Zebisch, A. Cicogna, Roberto Cremonini, Andrea Debernardi, Mattia Faletto, Mauro Gaddo, Lorenzo Giovannini, Luca Mercalli, Jean Michel Soubeyroux, Andrea Sušnik, Alberto Trenti, Stefano Urbani, Viktor Weilguni
The Cryosphere, Volume 15, Issue 3

Abstract. The European Alps stretch over a range of climate zones which affect the spatial distribution of snow. Previous analyses of station observations of snow were confined to regional analyses. Here, we present an Alpine-wide analysis of snow depth from six Alpine countries – Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland – including altogether more than 2000 stations of which more than 800 were used for the trend assessment. Using a principal component analysis and k-means clustering, we identified five main modes of variability and five regions which match the climatic forcing zones: north and high Alpine, north-east, north-west, south-east, and south and high Alpine. Linear trends of monthly mean snow depth between 1971 and 2019 showed decreases in snow depth for most stations from November to May. The average trend among all stations for seasonal (November to May) mean snow depth was −8.4 % per decade, for seasonal maximum snow depth −5.6 % per decade, and for seasonal snow cover duration −5.6 % per decade. Stronger and more significant trends were observed for periods and elevations where the transition from snow to snow-free occurs, which is consistent with an enhanced albedo feedback. Additionally, regional trends differed substantially at the same elevation, which challenges the notion of generalizing results from one region to another or to the whole Alps. This study presents an analysis of station snow depth series with the most comprehensive spatial coverage in the European Alps to date.

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Evaluating a prediction system for snow management
Pirmin Philipp Ebner, Franziska Koch, Valentina Premier, Carlo Marín, Florian Hanzer, Carlo Maria Carmagnola, Hugues François, Daniel Günther, Fabiano Monti, Olivier Hargoaa, Ulrich Strasser, Samuel Morin, Michael Lehning
The Cryosphere, Volume 15, Issue 8

Abstract. The evaluation of snowpack models capable of accounting for snow management in ski resorts is a major step towards acceptance of such models in supporting the daily decision-making process of snow production managers. In the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) project PROSNOW, a service to enable real-time optimization of grooming and snow-making in ski resorts was developed. We applied snow management strategies integrated in the snowpack simulations of AMUNDSEN, Crocus, and SNOWPACK–Alpine3D for nine PROSNOW ski resorts located in the European Alps. We assessed the performance of the snow simulations for five winter seasons (2015–2020) using both ground-based data (GNSS-measured snow depth) and spaceborne snow maps (Copernicus Sentinel-2). Particular attention has been devoted to characterizing the spatial performance of the simulated piste snow management at a resolution of 10 m. The simulated results showed a high overall accuracy of more than 80 % for snow-covered areas compared to the Sentinel-2 data. Moreover, the correlation to the ground observation data was high. Potential sources for local differences in the snow depth between the simulations and the measurements are mainly the impact of snow redistribution by skiers; compensation of uneven terrain when grooming; or spontaneous local adaptions of the snow management, which were not reflected in the simulations. Subdividing each individual ski resort into differently sized ski resort reference units (SRUs) based on topography showed a slight decrease in mean deviation. Although this work shows plausible and robust results on the ski slope scale by all three snowpack models, the accuracy of the results is mainly dependent on the detailed representation of the real-world snow management practices in the models. As snow management assessment and prediction systems get integrated into the workflow of resort managers, the formulation of snow management can be refined in the future.


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Observed snow depth trends in the European Alps 1971 to 2019
Michael Matiu, Alice Crespi, Giacomo Bertoldi, Carlo Maria Carmagnola, Christoph Marty, Samuel Morin, Wolfgang Schöner, Daniele Cat Berro, Gabriele Chiogna, Ludovica De Gregorio, Sven Kotlarski, Bruno Majone, Gernot Resch, Silvia Terzago, Mauro Valt, Walter Beozzo, Paola Cianfarra, Isabelle Gouttevin, Giorgia Marcolini, Claudia Notarnicola, Marcello Petitta, Simon C. Scherrer, Ulrich Strasser, Michael Winkler, Marc Zebisch, A. Cicogna, Roberto Cremonini, Andrea Debernardi, Mattia Faletto, Mauro Gaddo, Lorenzo Giovannini, Luca Mercalli, Jean‐Michel Soubeyroux, Andrea Sušnik, Alberto Trenti, Stefano Urbani, Viktor Weilguni

Abstract. The European Alps stretch over a range of climate zones, which affect the spatial distribution of snow. Previous analyses of station observations of snow were confined to regional analyses. Here, we present an Alpine wide analysis of snow depth from six Alpine countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and Switzerland; including altogether more than 2000 stations. Using a principal component analysis and k-means clustering, we identified five main modes of variability and five regions, which match the climatic forcing zones: north and high Alpine, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest. Linear trends of mean monthly snow depth between 1971 to 2019 showed decreases in snow depth for 87 % of the stations. December to February trends were on average −1.1 cm decade−1 (min, max: −10.8, 4.4; elevation range 0–1000 m), −2.5 (−25.1, 4.4; 1000–2000 m) and −0.1 (−23.3, 9.9; 2000–3000 m), with stronger trends in March to May: −0.6 (−10.9, 1.0; 0–1000 m), −4.6 (−28.1, 4.1; 1000–2000 m) and −7.6 (−28.3, 10.5; 2000–3000 m). However, regional trends differed substantially, which challenges the notion of generalizing results from one Alpine region to another or to the whole Alps. This study presents an analysis of station snow depth series with the most comprehensive spatial coverage in the European Alps to date.

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Overloaded! Critical revision and a new conceptual approach for snow indicators in ski tourism
Bruno Abegg, Samuel Morin, O. Cenk Demiroglu, Hugues François, Michael Rothleitner, Ulrich Strasser
International Journal of Biometeorology, Volume 65, Issue 5

Abstract Indicators are widely used in climate variability and climate change assessments to simplify the tracking of complex processes and phenomena in the state of the environment. Apart from the climatic criteria, the snow indicators in ski tourism have been increasingly extended with elements that relate to the technical, operational, and commercial aspects of ski tourism. These non-natural influencing factors have gained in importance in comparison with the natural environmental conditions but are more difficult to comprehend in time and space, resulting in limited explanatory power of the related indicators when applied for larger/longer scale assessments. We review the existing indicator approaches to derive quantitative measures for the snow conditions in ski areas, to formulate the criteria that the indicators should fulfill, and to provide a list of indicators with their technical specifications which can be used in snow condition assessments for ski tourism. For the use of these indicators, a three-step procedure consisting of definition, application, and interpretation is suggested. We also provide recommendations for the design of indicator-based assessments of climate change effects on ski tourism. Thereby, we highlight the importance of extensive stakeholder involvement to allow for real-world relevance of the achieved results.


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Twenty-three unsolved problems in hydrology (UPH) – a community perspective
Günter Blöschl, M. F. Bierkens, António Chambel, Christophe Cudennec, Georgia Destouni, Aldo Fiori, J. W. Kirchner, Jeffrey J. McDonnell, H. H. G. Savenije, Murugesu Sivapalan, Christine Stumpp, Elena Toth, Elena Volpi, Gemma Carr, Claire Lupton, José Luis Salinas, Borbála Széles, Alberto Viglione, Hafzullah Aksoy, Scott T. Allen, Anam Amin, Vazken Andréassian, Berit Arheimer, Santosh Aryal, Victor R. Baker, Earl Bardsley, Marlies Barendrecht, Alena Bartošová, Okke Batelaan, Wouter Berghuijs, Keith Beven, Theresa Blume, Thom Bogaard, Pablo Borges de Amorim, Michael E. Böttcher, Gilles Boulet, Korbinian Breinl, Mitja Brilly, Luca Brocca, Wouter Buytaert, Attilio Castellarin, Andrea Castelletti, Xiaohong Chen, Yangbo Chen, Yuanfang Chen, Peter Chifflard, Pierluigi Claps, Martyn P. Clark, Adrian L. Collins, Barry Croke, Annette Dathe, Paula Cunha David, Felipe P. J. de Barros, Gerrit de Rooij, Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Jessica M. Driscoll, Doris Duethmann, Ravindra Dwivedi, Ebru Eriş, William Farmer, James Feiccabrino, Grant Ferguson, Ennio Ferrari, Stefano Ferraris, Benjamin Fersch, David C. Finger, Laura Foglia, Keirnan Fowler, Б. И. Гарцман, Simon Gascoin, Éric Gaumé, Alexander Gelfan, Josie Geris, Shervan Gharari, Tom Gleeson, Miriam Glendell, Alena Gonzalez Bevacqua, M. P. González‐Dugo, Salvatore Grimaldi, A.B. Gupta, Björn Guse, Dawei Han, David M. Hannah, A. A. Harpold, Stefan Haun, Kate Heal, Kay Helfricht, Mathew Herrnegger, Matthew R. Hipsey, Hana Hlaváčiková, Clara Hohmann, Ladislav Holko, C. Hopkinson, Markus Hrachowitz, Tissa H. Illangasekare, Azhar Inam, Camyla Innocente, Erkan Istanbulluoglu, Ben Jarihani, Zahra Kalantari, Andis Kalvāns, Sonu Khanal, Sina Khatami, Jens Kiesel, M. J. Kirkby, Wouter Knoben, Krzysztof Kochanek, Silvia Kohnová, Alla Kolechkina, Stefan Krause, David K. Kreamer, Heidi Kreibich, Harald Kunstmann, Holger Lange, Margarida L. R. Liberato, Eric Lindquist, Timothy E. Link, Junguo Liu, Daniel P. Loucks, Charles H. Luce, Gil Mahé, Olga Makarieva, Julien Malard, Shamshagul Mashtayeva, Shreedhar Maskey, Josep Mas‐Pla, Maria Mavrova-Guirguinova, Maurizio Mazzoleni, Sebastian H. Mernild, Bruce Misstear, Alberto Montanari, Hannes Müller-Thomy, Alireza Nabizadeh, Fernando Nardi, Christopher M. U. Neale, Nataliia Nesterova, Bakhram Nurtaev, V.O. Odongo, Subhabrata Panda, Saket Pande, Zhonghe Pang, Georgia Papacharalampous, Charles Perrin, Laurent Pfister, Rafael Pimentel, María José Polo, David Post, Cristina Prieto, Maria‐Helena Ramos, Maik Renner, José Eduardo Reynolds, Elena Ridolfi, Riccardo Rigon, Mònica Riva, David Robertson, Renzo Rosso, Tirthankar Roy, João Henrique Macedo Sá, Gianfausto Salvadori, Melody Sandells, Bettina Schaefli, Andreas Schumann, Anna Scolobig, Jan Seibert, Éric Servat, Mojtaba Shafiei, Ashish Sharma, Moussa Sidibé, Roy C. Sidle, Thomas Skaugen, Hugh G. Smith, Sabine M. Spiessl, Lina Stein, Ingelin Steinsland, Ulrich Strasser, Bob Su, Ján Szolgay, David G. Tarboton, Flavia Tauro, Guillaume Thirel, Fuqiang Tian, Rui Tong, Kamshat Tussupova, Hristos Tyralis, R. Uijlenhoet, Rens van Beek, Ruud van der Ent, Martine van der Ploeg, Anne F. Van Loon, Ilja van Meerveld, Ronald van Nooijen, Pieter van Oel, Jean‐Philippe Vidal, Jana von Freyberg, Sergiy Vorogushyn, Przemysław Wachniew, Andrew J. Wade, Philip J. Ward, Ida Westerberg, Christopher White, Eric F. Wood, Ross Woods, Zongxue Xu, Koray K. Yılmaz, Yongqiang Zhang
Hydrological Sciences Journal, Volume 64, Issue 10

This paper is the outcome of a community initiative to identify major unsolved scientific problems in hydrology motivated by a need for stronger harmonisation of research efforts. The procedure involved a public consultation through online media, followed by two workshops through which a large number of potential science questions were collated, prioritised, and synthesised. In spite of the diversity of the participants (230 scientists in total), the process revealed much about community priorities and the state of our science: a preference for continuity in research questions rather than radical departures or redirections from past and current work. Questions remain focused on the process-based understanding of hydrological variability and causality at all space and time scales. Increased attention to environmental change drives a new emphasis on understanding how change propagates across interfaces within the hydrological system and across disciplinary boundaries. In particular, the expansion of the human footprint raises a new set of questions related to human interactions with nature and water cycle feedbacks in the context of complex water management problems. We hope that this reflection and synthesis of the 23 unsolved problems in hydrology will help guide research efforts for some years to come.

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Uncertainties in Snowpack Simulations—Assessing the Impact of Model Structure, Parameter Choice, and Forcing Data Error on Point‐Scale Energy Balance Snow Model Performance
Daniel Günther, Thomas Marke, Richard Essery, Ulrich Strasser
Water Resources Research, Volume 55, Issue 4

In this study, we assess the impact of forcing data errors, model structure, and parameter choices on 1‐D snow simulations simultaneously within a global variance‐based sensitivity analysis framework. This approach allows inclusion of interaction effects, drawing a more representative picture of the resulting sensitivities. We utilize all combinations of a multiphysics snowpack model to mirror the influence of model structure. Uncertainty ranges of model parameters and input data are extracted from the literature. We evaluate a suite of 230,000 model realizations at the snow monitoring station Kühtai (Tyrol, Austria, 1,920 m above sea level) against snow water equivalent observations. The results show throughout the course of 25 winter seasons (1991–2015) and different model performance criteria a large influence of forcing data uncertainty and its interactions on the model performance. Mean interannual total sensitivity indices are in the general order of parameter choice < model structure < forcing error, with precipitation, air temperature, and the radiative forcings controlling the variance during the accumulation period and air temperature and longwave irradiance controlling the variance during the ablation period, respectively. Model skill is highly sensitive to the snowpack liquid water transport scheme throughout the whole winter period and to albedo representation during the ablation period. We found a sufficiently long evaluation period (>10 years) is required for robust averaging. A considerable interaction effect was revealed, indicating that an improvement in the knowledge (i.e., reduction of uncertainty) of one factor alone might not necessarily improve model results.

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Storylines of combined future land use and climate scenarios and their hydrological impacts in an Alpine catchment (Brixental/Austria)
Ulrich Strasser, Kristian Förster, Herbert Formayer, Florentin Hofmeister, Thomas Marke, Gertraud Meißl, Imran Nadeem, Rike Stotten, Markus Schermer
Science of The Total Environment, Volume 657

In this paper, the hydrological impacts of future socio-economic and climatic development are assessed for a regional-scale Alpine catchment (Brixental, Tyrol, Austria). Therefore, coupled storylines of future land use and climate scenarios were developed in a transdisciplinary stakeholder process by means of questionnaire analyses and interviews with local experts from various relevant societal sectors. Resulting future land use maps for each decade were used as spatial input in the hydrological model WaSiM, to which a new module for the consideration of snow-canopy interaction processes has been added. Simulation results for three developed storylines, each combined with a moderate (A1B) and an extreme (RCP8.5) climate future, show that in a warmer and dryer climate the amount of annual simulated streamflow at the gauge of the catchment undergoes a significant reduction. The (mainly natural) reforestation of the catchment - caused by abandonment of previously cultivated areas - leads to additional losses of water by enhanced interception and evapotranspiration processes. Further cultivation of the current mountain pasture areas has a certain potential to attenuate undesirable long-term impacts of climate change on the catchment water balance.

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A Novel Data Fusion Technique for Snow Cover Retrieval
Ludovica De Gregorio, Mattia Callegari, Carlo Marín, Marc Zebisch, Lorenzo Bruzzone, Begüm Demir, Ulrich Strasser, Thomas Marke, Daniel Günther, Rudi Nadalet, Claudia Notarnicola
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, Volume 12, Issue 8

This paper presents a novel data fusion technique for improving the snow cover monitoring for a mesoscale Alpine region, in particular in those areas where two information sources disagree. The presented methodological innovation consists in the integration of remote-sensing data products and the numerical simulation results by means of a machine learning classifier (support vector machine), capable to extract information from their quality measures. This differs from the existing approaches where remote sensing is only used for model tuning or data assimilation. The technique has been tested to generate a time series of about 1300 snow maps for the period between October 2012 and July 2016. The results show an average agreement between the fused product and the reference ground data of 96%, compared to 90% of the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) data product and 92% of the numerical model simulation. Moreover, one of the most important results is observed from the analysis of snow cover area (SCA) time series, where the fused product seems to overcome the well-known underestimation of snow in forest of the MODIS product, by accurately reproducing the SCA peaks of winter season.

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A 5 km Resolution Regional Climate Simulation for Central Europe: Performance in High Mountain Areas and Seasonal, Regional and Elevation-Dependent Variations
Michael Warscher, Sven Wagner, Thomas Marke, Patrick Laux, Gerhard Smiatek, Ulrich Strasser, Harald Kunstmann
Atmosphere, Volume 10, Issue 11

Mountain regions with complex orography are a particular challenge for regional climate simulations. High spatial resolution is required to account for the high spatial variability in meteorological conditions. This study presents a very high-resolution regional climate simulation (5 km) using the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) for the central part of Europe including the Alps. Global boundaries are dynamically downscaled for the historical period 1980–2009 (ERA-Interim and MPI-ESM), and for the near future period 2020–2049 (MPI-ESM, scenario RCP4.5). Model results are compared to gridded observation datasets and to data from a dense meteorological station network in the Berchtesgaden Alps (Germany). Averaged for the Alps, the mean bias in temperature is about −0.3 °C, whereas precipitation is overestimated by +14% to +19%. R 2 values for hourly, daily and monthly temperature range between 0.71 and 0.99. Temporal precipitation dynamics are well reproduced at daily and monthly scales (R 2 between 0.36 and 0.85), but are not well captured at hourly scale. The spatial patterns, seasonal distributions, and elevation-dependencies of the climate change signals are investigated. Mean warming in Central Europe exhibits a temperature increase between 0.44 °C and 1.59 °C and is strongest in winter and spring. An elevation-dependent warming is found for different specific regions and seasons, but is absent in others. Annual precipitation changes between −4% and +25% in Central Europe. The change signals for humidity, wind speed, and incoming short-wave radiation are small, but they show distinct spatial and elevation-dependent patterns. On large-scale spatial and temporal averages, the presented 5 km RCM setup has in general similar biases as EURO-CORDEX simulations, but it shows very good model performance at the regional and local scale for daily meteorology, and, apart from wind-speed and precipitation, even for hourly values.

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‘Teflon Basin’ or Not? A High-Elevation Catchment Transit Time Modeling Approach
Jan Schmieder, Stefan Seeger, Markus Weiler, Ulrich Strasser
Hydrology, Volume 6, Issue 4

We determined the streamflow transit time and the subsurface water storage volume in the glacierized high-elevation catchment of the Rofenache (Oetztal Alps, Austria) with the lumped parameter transit time model TRANSEP. Therefore we enhanced the surface energy-balance model ESCIMO to simulate the ice melt, snowmelt and rain input to the catchment and associated δ18O values for 100 m elevation bands. We then optimized TRANSEP with streamflow volume and δ18O for a four-year period with input data from the modified version of ESCIMO at a daily resolution. The median of the 100 best TRANSEP runs revealed a catchment mean transit time of 9.5 years and a mobile storage of 13,846 mm. The interquartile ranges of the best 100 runs were large for both, the mean transit time (8.2–10.5 years) and the mobile storage (11,975–15,382 mm). The young water fraction estimated with the sinusoidal amplitude ratio of input and output δ18O values and delayed input of snow and ice melt was 47%. Our results indicate that streamflow is dominated by the release of water younger than 56 days. However, tracers also revealed a large water volume in the subsurface with a long transit time resulting to a strongly delayed exchange with streamflow and hence also to a certain portion of relatively old water: The median of the best 100 TRANSEP runs for streamflow fraction older than five years is 28%.

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Improving SWE Estimation by Fusion of Snow Models with Topographic and Remotely Sensed Data
Ludovica De Gregorio, Daniel Günther, Mattia Callegari, Ulrich Strasser, Marc Zebisch, Lorenzo Bruzzone, Claudia Notarnicola
Remote Sensing, Volume 11, Issue 17

This paper presents a new concept to derive the snow water equivalent (SWE) based on the joint use of snow model (AMUNDSEN) simulation, ground data, and auxiliary products derived from remote sensing. The main objective is to characterize the spatial-temporal distribution of the model-derived SWE deviation with respect to the real SWE values derived from ground measurements. This deviation is due to the intrinsic uncertainty of any theoretical model, related to the approximations in the analytical formulation. The method, based on the k-NN algorithm, computes the deviation for some labeled samples, i.e., samples for which ground measurements are available, in order to characterize and model the deviations associated to unlabeled samples (no ground measurements available), by assuming that the deviations of samples vary depending on the location within the feature space. Obtained results indicate an improved performance with respect to AMUNDSEN model, by decreasing the RMSE and the MAE with ground data, on average, from 154 to 75 mm and from 99 to 45 mm, respectively. Furthermore, the slope of regression line between estimated SWE and ground reference samples reaches 0.9 from 0.6 of AMUNDSEN simulations, by reducing the data spread and the number of outliers.

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Agent-Based Modelling of a Coupled Water Demand and Supply System at the Catchment Scale
Lisa Huber, Nico Bahro, Georg Leitinger, Ulrike Tappeiner, Ulrich Strasser
Sustainability, Volume 11, Issue 21

Water is of uttermost importance for human well-being and a central resource in sustainable development. Many simulation models for sustainable water management, however, lack explanatory and predictive power because the two-way dynamic feedbacks between human and water systems are neglected. With Agent-based Modelling of Resources (Aqua.MORE; here, of the resource water), we present a platform that can support understanding, interpretation and scenario development of resource flows in coupled human–water systems at the catchment scale. Aqua.MORE simulates the water resources in a demand and supply system, whereby water fluxes and socioeconomic actors are represented by individual agents that mutually interact and cause complex feedback loops. First, we describe the key steps for developing an agent-based model (ABM) of water demand and supply, using the platform Aqua.MORE. Second, we illustrate the modelling process by application in an idealized Alpine valley, characterized by touristic and agricultural water demand sectors. Here, the implementation and analysis of scenarios highlights the possibilities of Aqua.MORE (1) to easily deploy case study-specific agents and characterize them, (2) to evaluate feedbacks between water demand and supply and (3) to compare the effects of different agent behavior or water use strategies. Thereby, we corroborate the potential of Aqua.MORE as a decision-support tool for sustainable watershed management.


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Spatio-temporal tracer variability in the glacier melt end-member - How does it affect hydrograph separation results?
Jan Schmieder, Jakob Garvelmann, Thomas Marke, Ulrich Strasser
Hydrological Processes, Volume 32, Issue 12

Geochemical and isotopic tracers were often used in mixing models to estimate glacier melt contributions to streamflow, whereas the spatio‐temporal variability in the glacier melt tracer signature and its influence on tracer‐based hydrograph separation results received less attention. We present novel tracer data from a high‐elevation catchment (17 km2, glacierized area: 34%) in the Oetztal Alps (Austria) and investigated the spatial, as well as the subdaily to monthly tracer variability of supraglacial meltwater and the temporal tracer variability of winter baseflow to infer groundwater dynamics. The streamflow tracer variability during winter baseflow conditions was small, and the glacier melt tracer variation was higher, especially at the end of the ablation period. We applied a three‐component mixing model with electrical conductivity and oxygen‐18. Hydrograph separation (groundwater, glacier melt, and rain) was performed for 6 single glacier melt‐induced days (i.e., 6 events) during the ablation period 2016 (July to September). Median fractions (±uncertainty) of groundwater, glacier melt, and rain for the events were estimated at 49±2%, 35±11%, and 16±11%, respectively. Minimum and maximum glacier melt fractions at the subdaily scale ranged between 2±5% and 76±11%, respectively. A sensitivity analysis showed that the intraseasonal glacier melt tracer variability had a marked effect on the estimated glacier melt contribution during events with large glacier melt fractions of streamflow. Intra‐daily and spatial variation of the glacier melt tracer signature played a negligible role in applying the mixing model. The results of this study (a) show the necessity to apply a multiple sampling approach in order to characterize the glacier melt end‐member and (b) reveal the importance of groundwater and rainfall–runoff dynamics in catchments with a glacial flow regime.

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Simulation of Past Changes in the Austrian Snow Cover 1948–2009
Thomas Marke, Florian Hanzer, Marc Olefs, Ulrich Strasser
Journal of Hydrometeorology, Volume 19, Issue 10

Abstract A distributed snow model is applied to simulate the spatiotemporal evolution of the Austrian snow cover at 1 km × 1 km spatial and daily temporal resolution for the period 1948–2009. After a comprehensive model validation, changes in snow cover conditions are analyzed for all of Austria as well as for different Austrian subregions and elevation belts focusing on the change in snow cover days (SCDs). The comparison of SCDs for the period 1950–79 to those achieved for 1980–2009 for all of Austria shows a decrease in SCDs with a maximum of >35 SCDs near Villach (Carinthia). The analysis of SCD changes in different subregions of Austria reveals mean changes between −11 and −15 days with highest absolute change in SCDs for southern Austria. Two decrease maxima could be identified in elevations of 500–2000 m MSL (between −13 and −18 SCDs depending on the subregion considered) and above 2500 m MSL (over −20 SCDs in the case of central Austria). The temporal distribution of SCD change in the Austrian subregions is characterized by a reduction of SCDs in midwinter and at the end of winter rather than by fewer SCDs in early winter. With respect to the temporal distribution of SCD change in different elevation belts, changes in elevations below 1000 m MSL are characterized by a distinct reduction of SCDs in January. With increasing elevation the maximum change in SCDs shifts toward the summer season, reaching a maximum decrease in the months of June–August above 2500 m MSL.

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ESM-SnowMIP: assessing snow models and quantifying snow-related climate feedbacks
Gerhard Krinner, Chris Derksen, Richard Essery, M. Flanner, Stefan Hagemann, Martyn P. Clark, Alex Hall, Helmut Rott, Claire Brutel‐Vuilmet, Hyungjun Kim, Cécile B. Ménard, Lawrence Mudryk, Chad W. Thackeray, Libo Wang, Gabriele Arduini, Gianpaolo Balsamo, Paul Bartlett, Julia Boike, Aaron Boone, F. Chéruy, Jeanne Colin, Matthias Cuntz, Yongjiu Dai, Bertrand Decharme, Jeff Derry, Agnès Ducharne, Emanuel Dutra, Xing Fang, Charles Fierz, Josephine Ghattas, Yeugeniy M. Gusev, Vanessa Haverd, Anna Kontu, Matthieu Lafaysse, R. M. Law, David M. Lawrence, Weiping Li, Thomas Marke, Danny Marks, Martin Ménégoz, О. Н. Насонова, Tomoko Nitta, Michio Niwano, John W. Pomeroy, Mark S. Raleigh, Gerd Schaedler, В. А. Семенов, Tanya Smirnova, Tobias Stacke, Ulrich Strasser, Sean Svenson, Dmitry Turkov, Tao Wang, Nander Wever, Hua Yuan, Wenyan Zhou, Dan Zhu
Geoscientific Model Development, Volume 11, Issue 12

Abstract. This paper describes ESM-SnowMIP, an international coordinated modelling effort to evaluate current snow schemes, including snow schemes that are included in Earth system models, in a wide variety of settings against local and global observations. The project aims to identify crucial processes and characteristics that need to be improved in snow models in the context of local- and global-scale modelling. A further objective of ESM-SnowMIP is to better quantify snow-related feedbacks in the Earth system. Although it is not part of the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), ESM-SnowMIP is tightly linked to the CMIP6-endorsed Land Surface, Snow and Soil Moisture Model Intercomparison (LS3MIP).

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Modelling forest snow processes with a new version of WaSiM
Kristian Förster, Jakob Garvelmann, Gertraud Meißl, Ulrich Strasser
Hydrological Sciences Journal, Volume 63, Issue 10

We present a new model extension for the Water balance Simulation Model, WaSiM, which features (i) snow interception and (ii) modified meteorological conditions under coniferous forest canopies, co...

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Retrospective forecasts of the upcoming winter season snow accumulation in the Inn headwaters (European Alps)
Kristian Förster, Florian Hanzer, Elena Stoll, Adam A. Scaife, Craig MacLachlan, Johannes Schöber, Matthias Huttenlau, Stefan Achleitner, Ulrich Strasser
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Volume 22, Issue 2

Abstract. This article presents analyses of retrospective seasonal forecasts of snow accumulation. Re-forecasts with 4 months' lead time from two coupled atmosphere–ocean general circulation models (NCEP CFSv2 and MetOffice GloSea5) drive the Alpine Water balance and Runoff Estimation model (AWARE) in order to predict mid-winter snow accumulation in the Inn headwaters. As snowpack is hydrological storage that evolves during the winter season, it is strongly dependent on precipitation totals of the previous months. Climate model (CM) predictions of precipitation totals integrated from November to February (NDJF) compare reasonably well with observations. Even though predictions for precipitation may not be significantly more skilful than for temperature, the predictive skill achieved for precipitation is retained in subsequent water balance simulations when snow water equivalent (SWE) in February is considered. Given the AWARE simulations driven by observed meteorological fields as a benchmark for SWE analyses, the correlation achieved using GloSea5-AWARE SWE predictions is r = 0.57. The tendency of SWE anomalies (i.e. the sign of anomalies) is correctly predicted in 11 of 13 years. For CFSv2-AWARE, the corresponding values are r = 0.28 and 7 of 13 years. The results suggest that some seasonal prediction of hydrological model storage tendencies in parts of Europe is possible.

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Projected cryospheric and hydrological impacts of 21st century climate change in the Ötztal Alps (Austria) simulated using a physically based approach
Florian Hanzer, Kristian Förster, Johanna Nemec, Ulrich Strasser
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, Volume 22, Issue 2

Abstract. A physically based hydroclimatological model (AMUNDSEN) is used to assess future climate change impacts on the cryosphere and hydrology of the Ötztal Alps (Austria) until 2100. The model is run in 100 m spatial and 3 h temporal resolution using in total 31 downscaled, bias-corrected, and temporally disaggregated EURO-CORDEX climate projections for the representative concentration pathways (RCPs) 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5 scenarios as forcing data, making this – to date – the most detailed study for this region in terms of process representation and range of considered climate projections. Changes in snow coverage, glacierization, and hydrological regimes are discussed both for a larger area encompassing the Ötztal Alps (1850 km2, 862–3770 m a.s.l.) as well as for seven catchments in the area with varying size (11–165 km2) and glacierization (24–77 %). Results show generally declining snow amounts with moderate decreases (0–20 % depending on the emission scenario) of mean annual snow water equivalent in high elevations (> 2500 m a.s.l.) until the end of the century. The largest decreases, amounting to up to 25–80 %, are projected to occur in elevations below 1500 m a.s.l. Glaciers in the region will continue to retreat strongly, leaving only 4–20 % of the initial (as of 2006) ice volume left by 2100. Total and summer (JJA) runoff will change little during the early 21st century (2011–2040) with simulated decreases (compared to 1997–2006) of up to 11 % (total) and 13 % (summer) depending on catchment and scenario, whereas runoff volumes decrease by up to 39 % (total) and 47 % (summer) towards the end of the century (2071–2100), accompanied by a shift in peak flows from July towards June.

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The European mountain cryosphere: a review of its current state, trends, and future challenges
Martin Beniston, Daniel Farinotti, Markus Stoffel, Liss M. Andreassen, Erika Coppola, Nicolas Eckert, Adriano Fantini, Florie Giacona, Christian Hauck, Matthias Huss, Hendrik Huwald, Michael Lehning, Juan I. López‐Moreno, Jan Magnusson, Christoph Marty, Enrique Morán‐Tejeda, Samuel Morin, Mohamed Naaïm, Antonello Provenzale, Antoine Rabatel, Delphine Six, Johann Stötter, Ulrich Strasser, Silvia Terzago, Christian Vincent
The Cryosphere, Volume 12, Issue 2

Abstract. The mountain cryosphere of mainland Europe is recognized to have important impacts on a range of environmental processes. In this paper, we provide an overview on the current knowledge on snow, glacier, and permafrost processes, as well as their past, current, and future evolution. We additionally provide an assessment of current cryosphere research in Europe and point to the different domains requiring further research. Emphasis is given to our understanding of climate–cryosphere interactions, cryosphere controls on physical and biological mountain systems, and related impacts. By the end of the century, Europe's mountain cryosphere will have changed to an extent that will impact the landscape, the hydrological regimes, the water resources, and the infrastructure. The impacts will not remain confined to the mountain area but also affect the downstream lowlands, entailing a wide range of socioeconomical consequences. European mountains will have a completely different visual appearance, in which low- and mid-range-altitude glaciers will have disappeared and even large valley glaciers will have experienced significant retreat and mass loss. Due to increased air temperatures and related shifts from solid to liquid precipitation, seasonal snow lines will be found at much higher altitudes, and the snow season will be much shorter than today. These changes in snow and ice melt will cause a shift in the timing of discharge maxima, as well as a transition of runoff regimes from glacial to nival and from nival to pluvial. This will entail significant impacts on the seasonality of high-altitude water availability, with consequences for water storage and management in reservoirs for drinking water, irrigation, and hydropower production. Whereas an upward shift of the tree line and expansion of vegetation can be expected into current periglacial areas, the disappearance of permafrost at lower altitudes and its warming at higher elevations will likely result in mass movements and process chains beyond historical experience. Future cryospheric research has the responsibility not only to foster awareness of these expected changes and to develop targeted strategies to precisely quantify their magnitude and rate of occurrence but also to help in the development of approaches to adapt to these changes and to mitigate their consequences. Major joint efforts are required in the domain of cryospheric monitoring, which will require coordination in terms of data availability and quality. In particular, we recognize the quantification of high-altitude precipitation as a key source of uncertainty in projections of future changes. Improvements in numerical modeling and a better understanding of process chains affecting high-altitude mass movements are the two further fields that – in our view – future cryospheric research should focus on.