Preprints
https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-2663083/v3
https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-2663083/v3
13 Jun 2023
 | 13 Jun 2023

Evaluation of ERA5 and Dynamical Downscaling for Surface Energy Balance Modeling at Mountain Glaciers in Western Canada

Christina Draeger, Valentina Radic, Rachel H. White, and Mekdes Ayalew Tessema

Abstract. Regional-scale surface energy balance (SEB) models of glacier melt require forcing by coarse-gridded data from reanalysis and/or global climate models that need to be downscaled to glacier scale. As on-glacier meteorological observations are rare, it generally remains unknown how exact the reanalysis and downscaled data are for the local-scale SEB modeling. We address this question by evaluating the performance of reanalysis from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ERA5 and ERA5-Land reanalysis), with and without downscaling, at four glaciers in Western Canada with available on- glacier meteorological measurements collected over different summer seasons. We dynamically downscale ERA5 with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model at 3.3 km and 1.1 km grid spacing. We find that the SEB model, forced separately with the observations and the two reanalyses, yields <10 % difference in simulated total melt energy and shows strong correlations (>0.79) in simulated timeseries of daily melt energy at each site. The good performance of the reanalysis-derived melt energy is partly due to cancellation of biases between overestimated incoming shortwave radiation and substantially underestimated wind speed and subsequently turbulent heat fluxes. Downscaling with WRF improves the simulation of wind speed, while other meteorological variables show similar performance to ERA5 without downscaling. The choice of WRF physics parameterization schemes is shown to have a relatively large impact on the simulations of SEB components, but a smaller impact on the modeled total melt energy. The results increase our confidence in dynamical downscaling with WRF for long-term glacier melt modeling in this region.

Christina Draeger et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1177', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Jul 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1177', Anonymous Referee #2, 03 Aug 2023

Christina Draeger et al.

Christina Draeger et al.

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Short summary
Our study increases our confidence in using reanalysis data for reconstructions of past glacier melt, as well as in using dynamical downscaling for long-term simulations from global climate models to project glacier melt. We find that the surface energy balance model, forced with reanalysis and dynamically downscaled reanalysis data, yields <10 % difference in modeled total melt energy as compared to the same model being forced with observations at our glacier sites in Western Canada.