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Title: Evaluating Wind Fields for Use in Basin‐Scale Distributed Snow Models

Mountain winds are the driving force behind snow accumulation patterns in mountainous catchments, making accurate wind fields a prerequisite to accurate simulations of snow depth for ecological or water resource applications. In this study, we examine the effect that wind fields derived from different coarse data sets and downscaling schemes has on simulations of modeled snow depth at resolutions suitable for basin‐scale modeling (>50 m). Simulations are run over the Tuolumne River Basin, CA for the accumulation season of Water Year 2017 using the distributed snow model, SnowModel. We derived wind fields using observations from either sensor networks, the North American Land Data Assimilation System (12.5 km resolution), or High‐Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR, 3 km resolution) data, and downscaled using terrain‐based multipliers (MicroMet), a mass‐conserving flow model (WindNinja), or bilinear interpolation. Two wind fields derived from 3 km HRRR data and downscaled with respect to terrain produced snow depth maps that best matched observations of snow depth from airborne LiDAR. We find that modeling these wind fields at 100 and 50 m resolutions do not produce improvements in simulated snow depth when compared to wind fields modeled at a 150 m resolution due to their inability to represent wind dynamics at these scales. For input to distributed snow models at the basin‐scale, we recommend deriving wind fields from high resolution numerical weather prediction model output and downscaling with respect to terrain. Future studies should compare suspension schemes used in blowing snow models and investigate wind downscaling schemes of complexity between statistical and fluid dynamic models.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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Journal Name:
Water Resources Research
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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