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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Model description paper 30 Oct 2018

Model description paper | 30 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Geoscientific Model Development (GMD).

A module to convert spectral to narrowband snow albedo for use in climate models: SNOWBAL v1.0

Christiaan T. van Dalum1, Willem Jan van de Berg1, Quentin Libois2, Ghislain Picard3, and Michiel R. van den Broeke1 Christiaan T. van Dalum et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2CNRM, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • 3University Grenoble Alpes, LGGE (UMR5183), Grenoble, France

Abstract. Snow albedo schemes in regional climate models often lack a sophisticated radiation penetration scheme and generally compute only a broadband albedo. Here, we present the Spectral-to-NarrOWBand ALbedo module (SNOWBAL, version 1.0) to couple effectively a spectral albedo model with a narrowband radiation scheme. Specifically, the Two-streAm Radiative TransfEr in Snow model (TARTES) is coupled with the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Integrated Forecast System atmospheric radiation scheme based on the rapid radiation transfer model, which is embedded in the regional climate model RACMO2. This coupling allows to explicitly account for the effect of clouds, snow impurities and snow metamorphism on albedo. Firstly, we present a narrowband albedo method to project the spectral albedos of TARTES onto the 14 spectral bands of the ECMWF shortwave radiation scheme using a representative wavelength (RW) for each band. Using TARTES and spectral downwelling surface irradiance derived with the DIScrete Ordinate Radiative Transfer atmospheric model, we show that RWs primarily depend on the solar zenith angle (SZA) and cloud content. Secondly, we compare the TARTES narrowband albedo, using offline RACMO2 results for South Greenland, with the broadband albedo parameterizations of Gardner and Sharp (2010), currently implemented in RACMO2, and the multi-layered parameterization of Kuipers Munneke et al. (2011, PKM). The actual absence of radiation penetration in RACMO2 leads on average to a higher albedo compared with TARTES narrowband albedo. Furthermore, large differences between the TARTES narrowband albedo and PKM and RACMO2 are observed for high SZA and clear-sky conditions, and after melt events when the snowpack is very inhomogeneous. This highlights the importance of accounting for spectral albedo and radiation penetration to simulate the energy budget of the Greenland ice sheet.

Christiaan T. van Dalum et al.
Interactive discussion
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Christiaan T. van Dalum et al.
Data sets

RACMO2.3p2 South Greenland data set, 2007 C. T. van Dalum and W. J. van de Berg

Christiaan T. van Dalum et al.
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Short summary
Climate models are often limited to relatively simple snow albedo schemes. Therefore, we have developed the SNOWBAL module to couple a climate model with a physically based wavelength dependent snow albedo model. Using SNOWBAL to couple the snow albedo model TARTES with the regional climate model RACMO2 indicates a potential performance gain for the Greenland ice sheet.
Climate models are often limited to relatively simple snow albedo schemes. Therefore, we have...