Simulated single-layer forest canopies delay Northern Hemisphere snowmelt

Markus Todt, Nick Rutter, Christopher Fletcher, Leanne Wake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


Single-layer vegetation schemes in modern land surface models have been found to overestimate diurnal cycles in longwave radiation beneath forest canopies. This study introduces an empirical correction, based on forest stand-scale simulations, which reduces diurnal cycles of sub-canopy longwave radiation. The correction is subsequently implemented in land-only simulations of the Community Land Model version 4.5 (CLM4.5) in order to assess the impact on snow cover. Nighttime underestimations of sub-canopy longwave radiation outweigh daytime overestimations, which leads to underestimated averages over the snow cover season. As a result, snow temperatures are underestimated and
snowmelt is delayed in CLM4.5 across evergreen boreal forests. Comparison with global observations confirms this delay and its reduction by correction of sub-canopy longwave radiation. Increasing insolation and day length change the impact of overestimated diurnal cycles on daily average subcanopy longwave radiation throughout the snowmelt season. Consequently, delay of snowmelt in land-only simulations is more substantial where snowmelt occurs early.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3077–3091
Number of pages15
JournalThe Cryosphere
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2019


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