Quantifying the impact of synoptic weather types and patterns on energy fluxes of a marginal snowpack

Andrew J. Schwartz, Hamish McGowan, A. Theobald, Nik Callow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Synoptic weather patterns are investigated for their impact on energy fluxes driving melt of a marginal snowpack in the Snowy Mountains, southeast Australia. K-means clustering applied to ECMWF ERA-Interim data identified common synoptic types and patterns that were then associated with in situ snowpack energy flux measurements. The analysis showed that the largest contribution of energy to the snowpack occurred immediately prior to the passage of cold fronts through increased sensible heat flux as a result of warm air advection (WAA) ahead of the front. Shortwave radiation was found to be the dominant control on positive energy fluxes when individual synoptic weather types were examined. As a result, cloud cover related to each synoptic type was shown to be highly influential on the energy fluxes to the snowpack through its reduction of shortwave radiation and reflection/emission of longwave fluxes. As single-site energy balance measurements of the snowpack were used for this study, caution should be exercised before applying the results to the broader Australian Alps region. However, this research is an important step towards understanding changes in surface energy flux as a result of shifts to the global atmospheric circulation as anthropogenic climate change continues to impact marginal winter snowpacks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2755-2774
Number of pages20
JournalThe Cryosphere
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020


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