Use of atmospheric radiation measurement program data from Barrow, Alaska for evaluation and development of snow-albedo parameterizations

N. Mölders, H. Luijting, K. Sassen

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Snow albedo is determined from the ratio of out-going to incoming solar radiation using three years of broadband shortwave radiometer data obtained from the Barrow, Alaska, Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site. These data are used for the evaluation of various types of snow-albedo parameterizations applied in numerical weather prediction or climate models. These snow-albedo parameterizations are based on environmental conditions (e.g., air or snow temperature), snow related characteristics (e.g., snow depth, snow age), or combinations of both. The ARM data proved to be well suited for snow-albedo evaluation purposes for a low-precipitation tundra environment. The evaluation confirms that snow-age dependent parameterizations of snow albedo work well during snowmelt, while parameterizations considering meteorological conditions often perform better during snow accumulation. Current difficulties in parameterizing snow albedo occur for long episodes of snow-event free conditions and episodes with a high frequency of snow events or strong snowfall. In a further step, the first two years of the ARM albedo dataset is used to develop a snow-albedo parameterization, and the third year’s data serves for its evaluation. This parameterization considers snow depth, wind speed, and air temperature which are found to be significant parameters for snow-albedo modeling under various conditions. Comparison of all evaluated snow-albedo parameterizations with this new parameterization shows improved snow-albedo prediction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-219
Number of pages21
JournalMeteorology and Atmospheric Physics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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