Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-42
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-42
06 Mar 2024
 | 06 Mar 2024

The importance of model horizontal resolution for improved estimation of Snow Water Equivalent in a mountainous region of Western Canada

Samaneh Sabetghadam, Christopher Fletcher, and Andre Erler

Abstract. Accurate estimation of snow water equivalent (SWE) over high mountainous regions is essential to support water resource management. Due to the sparse distribution of in situ observations, models have been used to estimate SWE. However, the influence of horizontal resolution on the accuracy of simulations remains poorly understood. This study evaluates the potential of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model at horizontal resolutions of 9, 3 and 1 km to estimate the daily values of SWE over the mountainous South Saskatchewan River Basin (SSRB) in Western Canada, for a representative water year, 2017–18. Results show an accumulation period from October 2017 to the annual peak in April 2018, followed by a melting period to the end of water year. All WRF simulations tend to underestimate annual SWE, with largest biases (up to 58 kg/m2, i.e. relatively 24 %) at higher elevations and coarser horizontal resolution. The two higher-resolution simulations capture the magnitude (and timing) of peak SWE very accurately, with only a 3 to 6 % low bias for 1 km and 3 km simulations, respectively. This demonstrates that a 3 km resolution may be appropriate for estimating SWE accumulation across the region. A relationship is identified between model elevation bias and SWE biases, suggesting that the smoothing of topographic features at lower horizontal resolution leads to lower grid cell elevations, warmer temperatures, and lower SWE. Overall, high resolution WRF simulations can provide reliable SWE values as an accurate input for hydrologic modeling over a sparsely monitored mountainous catchment.

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Samaneh Sabetghadam, Christopher Fletcher, and Andre Erler

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-2024-42', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Mar 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-42', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 May 2024
Samaneh Sabetghadam, Christopher Fletcher, and Andre Erler
Samaneh Sabetghadam, Christopher Fletcher, and Andre Erler

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Short summary
Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) is an environmental variable and represents the amount of liquid water if all the snow cover melted. This study evaluates the potential of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to estimate the daily values of SWE over the mountainous South Saskatchewan River Basin in Canada. Results show high resolution WRF simulations can provide reliable SWE values as an accurate input for hydrologic modeling over a sparsely monitored mountainous catchment.