Submitted to: Cold Regions Research Engineering Laboratory Special Report
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The spatial variability of snowpack accumulation and ablation processes can cause point-scale physically based snowmelt models to give poor estimates of average snowmelt over a small area or basin. Distributed snowpack modeling is a popular tool to handle spatial variability in snowpack accumulation and ablation across watersheds. Because of the high computational burden and the cost and uncertainty of input data associated with fine grids, elements of distributed models may be made large relative to the assumptions of uniformity of snowpack conditions within a model element. Approaches are needed to describe a model element as a heterogeneous unit within a physically based modeling framework. Our approach uses a parameterization of snow-covered area as a function of area-averaged snow water equivalence. This parameterization is linked to a physically based snowmelt model describing the lumped energy and mass balance of the snowpack. For each time step, the energy and mass balance are calculated for the snow-covered area.