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Understanding and modeling the physical processes that govern the melting of the snow cover in tropical mountain environment in Ecuador

Abstract : The ISBA/CROCUS coupled ground-snow model developed for the Alps and subsequently adapted to the outer tropical conditions of Bolivia has been applied to a full set of meteorological data recorded at 4860 m above sea level on a moraine area in Ecuador (Antizana 15 glacier, 0°28′S; 78°09′W) between 16 June 2005 and 30 June 2006 to determine the physical processes involved in the melting and disappearance of transient snow cover in nonglaciated areas of the inner tropics. Although less accurate than in Bolivia, the model is still able to simulate snow behavior over nonglaciated natural surfaces, as long as the modeled turbulent fluxes over bare ground are reduced and a suitable function is included to represent the partitioning of the surface between bare soil and snow cover. The main difference between the two tropical sites is the wind velocity, which is more than 3 times higher at the Antizana site than at the Bolivian site, leading to a nonuniform spatial distribution of snow over nonglaciated areas that is hard to describe with a simple snow partitioning function. Net solar radiation dominates the surface energy balance and is responsible for the energy stored in snow-free areas (albedo = 0.05) and transferred horizontally to adjacent snow patches by conduction within the upper soil layers and by turbulent advection. These processes can prevent the snow cover from lasting more than a few hours or a few days. Sporadically, and at any time of the year, this inner tropical site, much wetter than the outer tropics, experiences heavy snowfalls, covering all the moraine area, and thus limiting horizontal transfers and inducing a significant time lag between precipitation events and runoff.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-00420849
Contributor : Aurore Gayraud <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - 6:10:21 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:04:39 AM

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Patrick Wagnon, M. Lafaysse, Y. Lejeune, L. Maisincho, M. Rojas, et al.. Understanding and modeling the physical processes that govern the melting of the snow cover in tropical mountain environment in Ecuador. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2009, 114, pp.D19113. ⟨10.1029/2009JD012292⟩. ⟨insu-00420849⟩

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