Zaitchik, BF, Rodell, M (2009). Forward-Looking Assimilation of MODIS-Derived Snow-Covered Area into a Land Surface Model. JOURNAL OF HYDROMETEOROLOGY, 10(1), 130-148.
Snow cover over land has a significant impact on the surface radiation budget, turbulent energy fluxes to the atmosphere, and local hydrological fluxes. For this reason, inaccuracies in the representation of snow-covered area (SCA) within a land surface model (LSM) can lead to substantial errors in both offline and coupled simulations. Data assimilation algorithms have the potential to address this problem. However, the assimilation of SCA observations is complicated by an information deficit in the observation-SCA indicates only the presence or absence of snow, not snow water equivalent - and by the fact that assimilated SCA observations can introduce inconsistencies with atmospheric forcing data, leading to nonphysical artifacts in the local water balance. In this paper, a novel assimilation algorithm is presented that introduces Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) SCA observations to the Noah LSM in global, uncoupled simulations. The algorithm uses observations from up to 72 h ahead of the model simulation to correct against emerging errors in the simulation of snow cover while preserving the local hydrologic balance. This is accomplished by using future snow observations to adjust air temperature and, when necessary, precipitation within the LSM. In global, offline integrations, this new assimilation algorithm provided improved simulation of SCA and snow water equivalent relative to open loop integrations and integrations that used an earlier SCA assimilation algorithm. These improvements, in turn, influenced the simulation of surface water and energy fluxes during the snow season and, in some regions, on into the following spring.