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Environmental controls on snow water equivalent in two sub-Arctic mountain catchments
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences. (LUVAL: Ice, Climate Environment (ICE))
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, LUVAL. (Ice, Climate and Environment)
Stockholms Universitet.
Number of Authors: 3
2013 (English)Conference paper, Poster (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Spatial variability of seasonal snow depth poses a challenge when estimating snow water equivalent (SWE) from in-situ measurements in mountainous areas. Poor accessibility, complex topographic effects and localized microclimates make extrapolation of in-situ SWE measurements to a basin scale difficult. Remotely-sensed passive microwave SWE products are also inaccurate in complex terrain and/or at the forest-alpine tundra transition zone. To address these caveats, we investigated the relative importance of landscape qualities (altitude, slope, aspect, vegetation) and climate (winter temperatures, precipitation) on SWE distribution in two sub-Arctic mountainous catchments in Hemavan, Sweden, and Wolf Creek, Yukon, Canada. The two catchments are comparable, but have contrasted climate regimes. In-situ SWE measurements were made in March-April 2014 across the forest-tundra ecotone in both catchments. These were supplemented with historical snow-survey data since 2012 in Hemavan, and 1993 in Wolf Creek. Pairwise linear regressions of SWE against different landscape factors indicate that overall, altitude exerts the largest control on SWE at both Hemavan and Wolf Creek, but its effect is lesser within individual vegetation zones. In other respects, the two sites differ. SWE is inversely correlated to surface slope at forested sites in Hemavan (R^2 = 0.57, p = 0.25), but not in Wolf Creek. Slope aspect is positively correlated with SWE at forest-tundra transition sites (R^2 = 0.49, p = 0.12) in Wolf Creek, but not in Hemavan. For alpine tundra sites, slope angle strongly influences SWE in Hemavan (R^2 = 0.58, p = 0.24), but only weakly in Wolf Creek (R^2 = 0.05, p = 0.71). We discuss possible causes of these inter-catchment differences, and also evaluate the effect of inter-annual climate variations on SWE distribution at Wolf Creek using the long-term snow-survey record. Finally, we compare and discuss SWE estimates obtained by three different field measurement methods.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Snow cover, climate, mountains, subarctic
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Physical Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-288691OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-288691DiVA: diva2:924399
International Glaciological Society, Nordic Branch Meeting, Reykjavik, Iceland, 2013
Available from: 2016-04-28 Created: 2016-04-28 Last updated: 2016-04-28

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Zdanowicz, Christian
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