Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

A simple snow-atmosphere-soil transfer model


  • Shufen Sun,

  • Jiming Jin,

  • Yongkang Xue


This paper presents a simple snow model for climate studies. There are three prognostic variables in the model: specific enthalpy, snow water equivalent, and snow depth. This model is developed on the basis of up-to-date comprehensive and complex snow schemes but with substantial simplification and improvement. The effects of vapor on snow processes have been analyzed in the paper. On the basis of the analysis, vapor's contribution in the mass equation is eliminated, and an effective conductivity coefficient, which includes a simple parameterization for vapor diffusion effect, is used to describe its contribution in the energy equation to simplify the computation. Specific enthalpy is used in the energy balance equation. Using enthalpy rather than temperature greatly simplifies the computational procedure for the phase change calculation in the snow process. This approach, along with a one-step test scheme that avoids iterations, saves computational time, which is important for general circulation model (GCM) simulations. The layering scheme is a critical part in the model. After many tests, it is found that three layers with an appropriate layering scheme are adequate for most cases. Preliminary testing using Russian and French snow data shows that the three-layer model is able to produce reasonable and consistent results.