08 Oct 2021
08 Oct 2021
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Impact of measured and simulated tundra snowpack properties on heat transfer

Victoria R. Dutch1, Nick Rutter1, Leanne Wake1, Melody Sandells1, Chris Derksen2, Branden Walker3, Gabriel Hould Gosselin4, Oliver Sonnentag4, Richard Essery5, Richard Kelly6, Philip Marsh3, and Joshua King2 Victoria R. Dutch et al.
  • 1Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  • 2Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Canada
  • 3Cold Regions Research Centre, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada
  • 4Département de géographie, Université de Montréal, Canada
  • 5School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK
  • 6Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Canada

Abstract. Snowpack microstructure controls the transfer of heat to, and the temperature of, the underlying soils. In situ measurements of snow and soil properties from four field campaigns during two different winters (March and November 2018, January and March 2019) were compared to an ensemble of CLM5.0 (Community Land Model) simulations, at Trail Valley Creek, Northwest Territories, Canada. Snow MicroPenetrometer profiles allowed snowpack density and thermal conductivity to be derived at higher vertical resolution (1.25 mm) and a larger sample size (n = 1050) compared to traditional snowpit observations (3 cm vertical resolution; n = 115). Comparing measurements with simulations shows CLM overestimated snow thermal conductivity by a factor of 3, leading to a cold bias in wintertime soil temperatures (RMSE = 5.8 °C). Bias-correction of the simulated thermal conductivity (relative to field measurements) improved simulated soil temperatures (RMSE = 2.1 °C). Multiple linear regression shows the required correction factor is strongly related to snow depth (R2 = 0.77, RMSE = 0.066) particularly early in the winter. Furthermore, CLM simulations did not adequately represent the observed high proportions of depth hoar. Addressing uncertainty in simulated snow properties and the corresponding heat flux is important, as wintertime soil temperatures act as a control on subnivean soil respiration, and hence impact Arctic winter carbon fluxes and budgets.

Victoria R. Dutch et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-313', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply to both reviewer comments', Victoria Dutch, 16 Dec 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-313 by referee#2', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Nov 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply to both reviewer comments', Victoria Dutch, 16 Dec 2021

Victoria R. Dutch et al.

Victoria R. Dutch et al.


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Short summary
Measurements of the properties of the snow and soil were compared to simulations of the Community Land Model to see how well the model represents snow insulation. Simulations underestimated snow thermal conductivity and wintertime soil temperatures. As the model does not accurately represent the properties of shallow arctic snowpacks, a correction factor was required to reduce the transfer of heat through the snowpack and bring simulated soil temperatures closer to measurements.