Project: Improved climate model simulation of snow cover extent in boreal forest
Snow cover over land areas of the northern hemisphere is rapidly declining, thereby impacting climate via feedback effects, and boreal forests make up a substantial part of that area. However, climate models underestimate this decline and exhibit less skill for forested than for open areas. Therefore, the parameterisations of processes between snow, vegetation and the atmosphere used within climate models present prominent potential for improvements, which is the focus of this PhD project.
More precisely, vegetation cover increases the amount of energy received by the surface due to the difference between vegetation and air temperatures, which subsequently influences the snow cover on the ground. The vegetation absorbs incoming solar radiation and emits radiation towards the ground, however, the complex processes of storing and (re-)distributing energy within the vegetation and vegetation layer are simplified and/or insufficiently represented within climate models. The aim of this PhD project is to improve the parameterisations of these using data from a range of observational sites and consequently implement the modified parameterisations in climate models to improve global scale simulations of snow cover.
Dr Nick Rutter