Articles | Volume 12, issue 7
Research article
12 Jul 2018
Research article |  | 12 Jul 2018

A particle filter scheme for multivariate data assimilation into a point-scale snowpack model in an Alpine environment

Gaia Piazzi, Guillaume Thirel, Lorenzo Campo, and Simone Gabellani

Abstract. The accuracy of hydrological predictions in snow-dominated regions deeply depends on the quality of the snowpack simulations, with dynamics that strongly affect the local hydrological regime, especially during the melting period. With the aim of reducing the modelling uncertainty, data assimilation techniques are increasingly being implemented for operational purposes. This study aims to investigate the performance of a multivariate sequential importance resampling – particle filter scheme, designed to jointly assimilate several ground-based snow observations. The system, which relies on a multilayer energy-balance snow model, has been tested at three Alpine sites: Col de Porte (France), Torgnon (Italy), and Weissfluhjoch (Switzerland). The implementation of a multivariate data assimilation scheme faces several challenging issues, which are here addressed and extensively discussed: (1) the effectiveness of the perturbation of the meteorological forcing data in preventing the sample impoverishment; (2) the impact of the parameter perturbation on the filter updating of the snowpack state; the system sensitivity to (3) the frequency of the assimilated observations, and (4) the ensemble size.

The perturbation of the meteorological forcing data generally turns out to be insufficient for preventing the sample impoverishment of the particle sample, which is highly limited when jointly perturbating key model parameters. However, the parameter perturbation sharpens the system sensitivity to the frequency of the assimilated observations, which can be successfully relaxed by introducing indirectly estimated information on snow-mass-related variables. The ensemble size is found not to greatly impact the filter performance in this point-scale application.

Short summary
The study focuses on the development of a multivariate particle filtering data assimilation scheme into a point-scale snow model. One of the main challenging issues concerns the impoverishment of the particle sample, which is addressed by jointly perturbing meteorological data and model parameters. An additional snow density model is introduced to reduce sensitivity to the availability of snow mass-related observations. In this configuration, the system reveals a satisfying performance.