Investigating the development of shallow snowpacks on arable land, using comprehensive field observations and spatially distributed snow modelling

Starkloff, Torsten; Stolte, Jannes; Hessel, Rudi; Ritsema, Coen


Shallow (<1 m deep) snowpacks on agricultural areas are an important hydrological component in many countries, which determines how much meltwater is potentially available for overland flow, causing soil erosion and flooding at the end of winter. Therefore, it is important to understand the development of shallow snowpacks in a spatially distributed manner. This study combined field observations with spatially distributed snow modelling using the UEBGrid model, for three consecutive winters (2013-2015) in southern Norway. Model performance was evaluated by comparing the spatially distributed snow water equivalent (SWE) measurements over time with the simulated SWE. UEBGrid replicated SWE development at catchment scale with satisfactory accuracy for the three winters. The different calibration approaches which were necessary for winters 2013 and 2015 showed the delicacy of modelling the change in shallow snowpacks. Especially the refreezing of meltwater and prevention of runoff and infiltration of meltwater by frozen soils and ice layers can make simulations of shallow snowpacks challenging.