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Snow water resources of alpine snowcovers
Alpine3D is a snowcover model that allows simulating the spatial distribution of snow in complex alpine terrain. This project deals with the verification of snow water equivalent (SWE) estimates of Alpine3D by means of field measurements.
For our snow hydrological research, Alpine3D is one of the most powerful tools. The model can estimate the water resources stored in the snowcover and predict the subsequent runoff for entire catchment areas. However, for the interpretation of model results, we need to know in detail about the quality of the model performance: How accurate is the model, what are the limitations, and is there any potential for further enhancements? The performance of Alpine3D has already been verified against runoff data. But a verification of the model results with regards to the spatial distribution of snow is still needed.
The spatial distribution of snow is observed by means of a) distributed manual measurements of SWE during periodical field campaigns, b) supplementary automatic snow and weather stations, and c) by automatic cameras recording the snow ablation pattern in spring.
As test site, we selected the Dischma valley near Davos. It covers an area of approx. 60 km2 and ranges from 1570 to 2930 m above sea level. Less than 10% of the area is covered by subalpine forest, while the bulk of the catchment consists of open alpine terrain.
Alpine3D requires meteorological input data for its simulations. Fortunately, there are more then 10 automatic weather stations within a perimeter of 15 km around Dischma valley. These data serve as driving forces for the snowcover simulations. Alpine3D accounts for the energy balance of the snowcover, multilayer snowpack characteristics, interception phenomena on forest canopies, snow drift, and runoff processes.
Supplementary automatic snow and weather stations are set up in Dischma valley every winter. Field data is being collected since winter 2006/07.