In Arctic regions snow cover has a major influence on the environment both in a hydrological and ecological context. Due to strong winds and open terrain the snow is heavily redistributed and the snow depth is quite variable. This has a significant influence on the snow cover depletion and the duration of the melting season. In many ways these are important parameters in the climate change aspect. They influence the land surface albedo, the possibilities of greenhouse gas exchange and the length of the plant-growing season, the latter also being important for the arctic terrestrial fauna. The aim of this study is to test to what degree a numerical model is able to recreate an observed snow distribution in sites located in Svalbard and Norway. Snow depth frequency distribution, a snow depth rank order test and the location of snowdrifts and erosion areas were used as criteria for the model performance. SnowTran-3D is the model used in this study. In order to allow for occasions during the winter with milder climate and temperatures above freezing, a snow strengthening calculation was included in the model. The model result was compared to extensive observation datasets for each site and the sensitivity of the main model parameters to the model result was tested. For all three sites, the modelled snow depth frequency distribution was highly correlated to the observed distribution and the snowdrifts and erosion areas were located correspondingly by the model to those observed at the sites.

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