Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Analysis of the temporal variability of the spatial distribution of snow

A simulation exercise has been performed in order to study the temporal development of snow-covered area and the spatial distribution of snow water equivalent (SWE).

Special consideration has been paid to how the properties of the spatial statistical distribution change as a response to accumulation and ablation events. A distributed rainfall-runoff model at resolution 1 1km{2} has been run with time series of precipitation and temperature fields of the same spatial resolution derived from the atmospheric model HIRLAM.

The precipitation fields are disaggregated and the temperature fields are interpolated. Time series of the spatial distribution of snow water equivalent and snow-covered area for three seasons for catchments in Norway is generated. The catchments is of size 3085km{2} and two rectangular sub-areas of 484 km2 are located within the larger catchments.

The results show that the shape of the spatial distribution of SWE for all three areas changes during the winter. The distribution is very skewed at the start of the accumulation season, then the skew decreases during the accumulation season, and as the ablation season sets in, the spatial distribution again becomes more skewed with a maximum near the end of the ablation season. For one of the sub-areas, we find a consistently more skewed distribution of SWE, which is addressed to higher variability in precipitation.

This indicates that observed differences in the spatial distribution of snow between alpine and forested areas can be a result of the differences in the spatial variability of precipitation. The results obtained from the simulation exercise are consistent with a new approach of modelling the spatial distribution of SWE as summations of a gamma distributed variable.

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Reported by

Norwegian Water Resoures and Energy Directorate, Section for Water Balance
P.O.Box 5091 Majorstua
0301 Oslo
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