Tracking snowmelt during hydrological surface processes using a distributed hydrological model in a mesoscale basin on the Tibetan Plateau
Mountain snowpack is an important water resource for the high altitude and latitude regions where the terrain is complex. However, the snowmelt pathway and its actual contribution to streamflow and soil moisture are rarely reported and remain unclear in such regions. To fill in this knowledge gap, we incorporate a snowmelt pathway tracking algorithm to a high-resolution physics-based distributed-hydrology-soil-vegetation model (DHSVM), to track snowmelt movement and quantify snowmelt contributions in the surface hydrologic processes. A simple reservoir operation scheme is also incorporated in the model. The modified model is applied to a dammed meso-scale watershed in the northeast Tibetan Plateau, China to study the snow and reservoir effects. The results show that annual snow contribution to soil moisture (SC-SM) and snow contribution to streamflow (SC-S) significantly decrease over 1965-2019. At a monthly scale, SC-SM has the largest amplitude at the top soil layer and its peak in the deeper layer lags behind the upper layer, and mean monthly SC-S at all stations show bimodal distributions corresponding to snowfall season. Reservoir regulation has subtle impacts (=2.0%) on SC-S. If the current climate change rate continues, monthly and annual streamflow at the outlet will decrease primarily due to snowpack reduction. To mitigate climate change impacts, better water resource management is needed in this watershed.
Published: January 13, 2023
Liu Z., L. Cuo, and N. Sun. 2023.Tracking snowmelt during hydrological surface processes using a distributed hydrological model in a mesoscale basin on the Tibetan Plateau.Journal of Hydrology 616.PNNL-SA-160416.doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2022.128796