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Modelling the dynamics of snow cover, soil frost and surface ice in Norwegian grasslands

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Studying the winter survival of forage grasses under a changing climate requires models that can simulate the dynamics of soil conditions at low temperatures. We developed a simple model that simulates depth of snow cover, the lower frost boundary of the soil and the freezing of surface puddles. We calibrated the model against independent data from four locations in Norway, capturing climatic variation from south to north (Arctic) and from coastal to inland areas. We parameterized the model by means of Bayesian calibration, and identified the least important model parameters using the sensitivity analysis method of Morris. Verification of the model suggests that the results are reasonable. Because of the simple model structure, some overestimation occurs in snow and frost depth. Both the calibration and the sensitivity analysis suggested that the snow cover module could be simplified with respect to snowmelt and liquid water content. The soil frost module should be kept unchanged, whereas the surface ice module should be changed when more detailed topographical data become available, such as better estimates of the fraction of the land area where puddles may form.
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Keywords: Calibration; frost depth; ice cover; modelling; sensitivity analysis; snow cover

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Plant Health and Plant Protection Division, Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Høgskoleveien 7, NO-1432, Norway 2: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh, Natural Environment Research Council, Bush Estate, Penicuik, EH26 0QB, UK

Publication date: 2010-04-01

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