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Effects of frozen soil on soil temperature, spring infiltration, and runoff: Results from the PILPS 2(d) experiment at Valdai, Russia


The Project for Intercomparison of Land-Surface Parameterization Schemes phase 2(d) experiment at Valdai, Russia, offers a unique opportunity to evaluate land surface schemes, especially snow and frozen soil parameterizations. Here, the ability of the 21 schemes that participated in the experiment to correctly simulate the thermal and hydrological properties of the soil on several different timescales was examined. Using observed vertical profiles of soil temperature and soil moisture, the impact of frozen soil schemes in the land surface models on the soil temperature and soil moisture simulations was evaluated. It was found that when soil-water freezing is explicitly included in a model, it improves the simulation of soil temperature and its variability at seasonal and interannual scales. Although change of thermal conductivity of the soil also affects soil temperature simulation, this effect is rather weak. The impact of frozen soil on soil moisture is inconclusive in this experiment due to the particular climate at Valdai, where the top 1 m of soil is very close to saturation during winter and the range for soil moisture changes at the time of snowmelt is very limited. The results also imply that inclusion of explicit snow processes in the models would contribute to substantially improved simulations. More sophisticated snow models based on snow physics tend to produce better snow simulations, especially of snow ablation. Hysteresis of snow-cover fraction as a function of snow depth is observed at the catchment but not in any of the models.

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