Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

A parameterization of snowpack and frozen ground intended for NCEP weather and climate models


  • V. Koren,

  • J. Schaake,

  • K. Mitchell,

  • Q.-Y. Duan,

  • F. Chen,

  • J. M. Baker


Extensions to the land surface scheme (LSS) in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, regional, coupled, land-atmosphere weather prediction model, known as the mesoscale Eta model, are proposed and tested off-line in uncoupled mode to account for seasonal freezing and thawing of soils and snow-accumulation-ablation processes. An original model assumption that there is no significant heat transfer during redistribution of liquid water was relaxed by including a source/sink term in the heat transfer equation to account for latent heat during phase transitions of soil moisture. The parameterization uses the layer-integrated form of heat and water diffusion equations adopted by the original Eta-LSS. Therefore it simulates the total ice content of each selected soil layer. Infiltration reduction under frozen ground conditions was estimated by probabilistic averaging of spatially variable ice content of the soil profile. Off-line uncoupled tests of the new and original Eta-LSS were performed using experimental data from Rosemount, Minnesota. Simulated soil temperature and unfrozen water content matched observed data reasonably well. Neglecting frozen ground processes leads to significant underestimation/overestimation of soil temperature during soil freezing/thawing periods and underestimates total soil moisture content after extensive periods of soil freezing.