Interactions between snow cover and evaporation lead to higher sensitivity of streamflow to temperature

Antônio Alves Meira Neto, Guo Yue Niu, Tirthankar Roy, Scott Tyler, Peter A. Troch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Estimates of potential evaporation often neglect the effects of snow cover on evaporation process. Here, we present a definition of potential evaporation that explicitly accounts for landscapes that are partially covered by snow. We show that, in the presence of snowpack, our evaporation estimates differ from conventional methods that assume evaporation from a free water surface. Specifically, we find that conventional methods overestimate potential evaporation as well as aridity, taken as the ratio of atmospheric water demand to supply, in landscapes where snowfall is significant. With dwindling snow-cover, actual aridity increases, which could explain the reduction in streamflow with decreasing snowfall. We suggest that streamflow, and hence water availability, is more sensitive to temperature changes in colder than in warmer regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number56
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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