Connecting simulations of solar radiation with real-life observational data: Case study at Finse Alpine Research center with detailed topography

It is well-known that variations in topography create a difference in local solar angle and thus insolation at the surface. However, the precise measurement of radiation flux is still subject to errors due to the number of effects such as clouds and terrain shading.

At a regional scale, the main issue is the existence and quality of radiation measurements in mountainous areas: the meteorological station's networks are typically too sparse and the re-analysis grids are coarse to correctly capture local topographic variations. The observational errors typically propagate through simulations leading to less accurate predictions of events such s snowmelt. 

ShyFT is a distributed hydrologic modelling framework, which is used operationally by Statkraft. With an introduction of irregular triangular grids from Rasputin into SHyFT, steps are taken to account for hillslope-scale terrain structures precisely. This new functionality allows downscaling and translating radiation measurements or re-analysis data onto inclined surfaces improving the predictive power of the model.

Finse eco-hydrological Observatory is a research facility in the northwestern part of the Hardangervidda mountain plateau 1200 meters above sea level. The region has been historically studied by biologists to study alpine ecosystems, and also by glaciologists and geologists (find many science stories on the Finse Research Station website).

The new network focuses on characterizing exchanges of energy, CO2 and water in between the alpine tundra and the atmosphere across seasons, which helps to gain a deep understanding of processes in alpine regions and produce a dense and rich dataset highly valuable for multidisciplinary approach research.

The purpose of this study is to design and run an experiment in which data obtained from Finse Alpine research centre is forced to simulate snowmelt with SHyFT. During this project, the candidate may be asked to travel to Finse Alpine research centre to undertake snow depth and snow cover measurements.

Finse area seen from the simulation tool. Click here for a bigger picture.


Published Oct. 14, 2019 12:51 PM - Last modified Oct. 14, 2019 1:02 PM

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