11 Sep 2023
 | 11 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

A novel numerical implementation for the surface energy budget of melting snowpacks and glaciers

Kévin Fourteau, Julien Brondex, Fanny Brun, and Marie Dumont

Abstract. The surface energy budget drives the melt of the snow cover and glacier ice and its computation is thus of crucial importance in numerical models. This surface energy budget is the sum of various surface energy fluxes, that depend on the input meteorological variables and surface temperature, and to which heat conduction towards the interior of the snow/ice and potential melting need to be added. The surface temperature and melt rate of a snowpack or ice are thus driven by coupled processes. In addition, these energy fluxes are non-linear with respect to the surface temperature, making their numerical treatment challenging. To handle this complexity, some of the current numerical models tend to rely on a sequential treatment of the involved physical processes, in which surface fluxes, heat conduction, and melting are treated with some degree of decoupling. Similarly, some models do not explicitly define a surface temperature and rather use the temperature of the internal point closest to the surface instead. While these kinds of approaches simplify the implementation and increase the modularity of models, it can also introduce several problems, such as instabilities and mesh sensitivity. Here, we present a numerical methodology to treat the surface and internal energy budgets of snowpacks and glaciers in a tightly-coupled manner, including potential surface melting when the fusion temperature is reached. Specific care is provided to ensure that the proposed numerical scheme is as fast and robust as classical numerical treatment of the surface energy budget. Comparisons based on simple test cases show that the proposed methodology yields smaller errors for almost all time steps and mesh sizes considered and does not suffer from numerical instabilities, contrary to some classical treatments.

Kévin Fourteau et al.

Status: open (until 06 Nov 2023)

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Kévin Fourteau et al.

Model code and software

Supplementary Material to "A novel numerical implementation for the surface energy budget of melting snowpacks and glaciers" Kevin Fourteau

Kévin Fourteau et al.


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Short summary
In this, we provide a novel numerical implementation for solving the energy exchanges at the surface of snow and ice. By combining the strong points of previous models, our solution leads to more accurate and robust simulations of the energy exchanges, surface temperature and melt, while preserving a reasonable computation time.