Improving the treatment of the vertical snow burial fraction over short vegetation in the NCAR CLM3

Aihui Wang, Xubin Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


One deficiency of the NCAR Community Land Model (CLM3) is the disappearance of the simulated snow even in the middle of winter over a boreal grassland site due to unrealistically modeled high downward turbulent fluxes. This is caused by the inappropriate treatment of the vertical snow burial fraction for short vegetation. A new snow burial fraction formulation for short vegetation is then proposed and validated using in situ observations. This modification in the CLM3 largely removes the unrealistic surface turbulent fluxes, leading to a more reasonable snowmelt process, and improves the snow water equivalent (SWE) simulation. Moreover, global offline simulations show that the proposed formulation decreases sensible and latent heat fluxes as well as the ground temperature during the snowmelt season over short vegetation dominant regions. Correspondingly, the SWE is enhanced, leading to the increase in snowmelt-induced runoff during the same period. Furthermore, sensitivity tests indicate that these improvements are insensitive to the exact functional form or parameter values in the proposed formulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-886
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Global
  • Model
  • Short vegetation
  • Snow burial fraction
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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