STEMMUS-UEB v1.0.0: integrated modeling of snowpack and soil water and energy transfer with three complexity levels of soil physical processes

Lianyu Yu, Yijian Zeng*, Zhongbo Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


A snowpack has a profound effect on the hydrology and surface energy conditions of an area through its effects on surface albedo and roughness and its insulating properties. The modeling of a snowpack, soil water dynamics, and the coupling of the snowpack and underlying soil layer has been widely reported. However, the coupled liquid–vapor–air flow mechanisms considering the snowpack effect have not been investigated in detail. In this study, we incorporated the snowpack effect (Utah energy balance snowpack model, UEB) into a common modeling framework (Simultaneous Transfer of Energy, Mass, and Momentum in Unsaturated Soils with Freeze-Thaw, STEMMUS-FT), i.e., STEMMUS-UEB. It considers soil water and energy transfer physics with three complexity levels (basic coupled, advanced coupled water and heat transfer, and finally explicit consideration of airflow, termed BCD, ACD, and ACD-air, respectively). We then utilized in situ observations and numerical experiments to investigate the effect of snowpack on soil moisture and heat transfer with the abovementioned model complexities. Results indicated that the proposed model with snowpack can reproduce the abrupt increase of surface albedo after precipitation events while this was not the case for the model without snowpack. The BCD model tended to overestimate the land surface latent heat flux (LE). Such overestimations were largely reduced by ACD and ACD-air models. Compared with the simulations considering snowpack, there is less LE from no-snow simulations due to the neglect of snow sublimation. The enhancement of LE was found after winter precipitation events, which is sourced from the surface ice sublimation, snow sublimation, and increased surface soil moisture. The relative role of the mentioned three sources depends on the timing and magnitude of precipitation and the pre-precipitation soil hydrothermal regimes. The simple BCD model cannot provide a realistic partition of mass transfer flux. The ACD model, with its physical consideration of vapor flow, thermal effect on water flow, and snowpack, can identify the relative contributions of different components (e.g., thermal or isothermal liquid and vapor flow) to the total mass transfer fluxes. With the ACD-air model, the relative contribution of each component (mainly the isothermal liquid and vapor flows) to the mass transfer was significantly altered during the soil thawing period. It was found that the snowpack affects not only the soil surface moisture conditions (surface ice and soil water content in the liquid phase) and energy-related states (albedo, LE) but also the transfer patterns of subsurface soil liquid and vapor flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7345-7376
Number of pages32
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2021




Dive into the research topics of 'STEMMUS-UEB v1.0.0: integrated modeling of snowpack and soil water and energy transfer with three complexity levels of soil physical processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this