Comparison of modeled snow properties in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan

Bair, Edward H.; Rittger, Karl; Ahmad, Jawairia A.; Chabot, Doug

Ice and snowmelt feed the Indus River and Amu Darya in western High Mountain Asia, yet there are limited in situ measurements of these resources. Previous work in the region has shown promise using snow water equivalent (SWE) reconstruction, which requires no in situ measurements, but validation has been a problem. However, recently we were provided with daily manual snow depth measurements from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH). To validate SWE reconstruction, at each station, accumulated precipitation and SWE were derived from snow depth using the numerical snow cover model SNOWPACK. High-resolution (500 m) reconstructed SWE estimates from the Parallel Energy Balance Model (ParBal) were then compared to the modeled SWE at the stations. The Alpine3D model was then used to create spatial estimates at 25 km resolution to compare with estimates from other snow models. Additionally, the coupled SNOWPACK and Alpine3D system has the advantage of simulating snow profiles, which provides stability information. The median number of critical layers and percentage of faceted layers across all of the pixels containing the AKAH stations were computed. For SWE at the point scale, the reconstructed estimates showed a bias of inline-formula−42 mm (inline-formula−19 %) at peak SWE. For the coarser spatial SWE estimates, the various models showed a wide range, with reconstruction being on the lower end. A heavily faceted snowpack was observed in both years, but 2018, a dry year, according to most of the models, showed more critical layers that persisted for a longer period.



Bair, Edward H. / Rittger, Karl / Ahmad, Jawairia A. / et al: Comparison of modeled snow properties in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. 2020. Copernicus Publications.


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