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Influence of snow cover changes on surface radiation and heat balance based on the WRF model

Abstract

The snow cover extent in mid-high latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere has significantly declined corresponding to the global warming, especially since the 1970s. Snow-climate feedbacks play a critical role in regulating the global radiation balance and influencing surface heat flux exchange. However, the degree to which snow cover changes affect the radiation budget and energy balance on a regional scale and the difference between snow-climate and land use/cover change (LUCC)-climate feedbacks have been rarely studied. In this paper, we selected Heilongjiang Basin, where the snow cover has changed obviously, as our study area and used the WRF model to simulate the influences of snow cover changes on the surface radiation budget and heat balance. In the scenario simulation, the localized surface parameter data improved the accuracy by 10 % compared with the control group. The spatial and temporal analysis of the surface variables showed that the net surface radiation, sensible heat flux, Bowen ratio, temperature and percentage of snow cover were negatively correlated and that the ground heat flux and latent heat flux were positively correlated with the percentage of snow cover. The spatial analysis also showed that a significant relationship existed between the surface variables and land cover types, which was not obviously as that for snow cover changes. Finally, six typical study areas were selected to quantitatively analyse the influence of land cover types beneath the snow cover on heat absorption and transfer, which showed that when the land was snow covered, the conversion of forest to farmland can dramatically influence the net radiation and other surface variables, whereas the snow-free land showed significantly reduced influence. Furthermore, compared with typical land cover changes, e.g., the conversion of forest into farmland, the influence of snow cover changes on net radiation and sensible heat flux were 60 % higher than that of land cover changes, indicating the importance of snow cover changes in the surface-atmospheric feedback system.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded under the project “Study on the digital reconstruction of land use change and its vulnerability in the agriculture and forestry ecotone in northeast China over the past century” of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41271416). We thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable and constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Shuwen Zhang.

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Yu, L., Liu, T., Bu, K. et al. Influence of snow cover changes on surface radiation and heat balance based on the WRF model. Theor Appl Climatol 130, 205–215 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-016-1856-0

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Keywords

  • Snow Cover
  • Latent Heat Flux
  • Land Cover Change
  • Land Cover Type
  • Bowen Ratio