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Assessing the degree of detail of temperature-based snow routines for runoff modelling in mountainous areas in central Europe

Lopez, Marc Girons and Vis, Marc J. P. and Jenicek, Michal and Griessinger, Nena and Seibert, Jan (2020). Assessing the degree of detail of temperature-based snow routines for runoff modelling in mountainous areas in central Europe. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. 24 , 4441-4461
[Journal article]

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Abstract

Snow processes are a key component of the water cycle in mountainous areas as well as in many areas of the mid and high latitudes of the Earth. The complexity of these processes, coupled with the limited data available on them, has led to the development of different modelling approaches aimed at improving our understanding of these processes and supporting decision-making and management practices. Physically based approaches, such as the energy balance method, provide the best representation of snow processes, but limitations in data availability in many situations constrain their applicability in favour of more straightforward approaches. Indeed, the comparatively simple temperature-index method has become the most widely used modelling approach for representing snowpack processes in rainfall runoff modelling, with different variants of this method implemented across many models. Nevertheless, the decisions on the most suitable degree of detail of the model are in many cases not adequately assessed for a given application.In this study we assessed the suitability of a number of formulations of different components of the simple temperature-index method for rainfall-runoff modelling in mountainous areas of central Europe by using the Hydrologiska Byrans Vattenbalansavdelning (HBV) bucket-type model. To this end, we reviewed the most widely used formulations of different components of temperature-based snow routines from different rainfall-runoff models and proposed a series of modifications to the default structure of the HBV model. We narrowed the choice of alternative formulations to those that provide a simple conceptualisation of the described processes in order to constrain parameter and model uncertainty. We analysed a total of 64 alternative snow routine structures over 54 catchments using a split-sample test. Overall, the most valuable modifications to the standard structure of the HBV snow routine were (a) using an exponential snowmelt function coupled with no refreezing and (b) computing melt rates with a seasonally variable degree-day factor. Our results also demonstrated that increasing the degree of detail of the temperature-based snow routines in rainfall runoff models did not necessarily lead to an improved model performance per se. Instead, performing an analysis on which processes are to be included, and to which degree of detail, for a given model and application is a better approach to obtain more reliable and robust results.

Authors/Creators:Lopez, Marc Girons and Vis, Marc J. P. and Jenicek, Michal and Griessinger, Nena and Seibert, Jan
Title:Assessing the degree of detail of temperature-based snow routines for runoff modelling in mountainous areas in central Europe
Year of publishing :2020
Volume:24
Page range:4441-4461
Number of Pages:21
ISSN:1027-5606
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 105 Earth and Related Environmental Sciences > Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 105 Earth and Related Environmental Sciences > Physical Geography
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-108147
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-108147
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.5194/hess-24-4441-2020
Web of Science (WoS)000572007000001
ID Code:17834
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:15 Oct 2020 14:02
Metadata Last Modified:15 Oct 2020 14:11

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