Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2021-16
https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-2021-16

  09 Jun 2021

09 Jun 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GI.

Evaluating methods for reconstructing large gaps in historic snow depth time series

Johannes Aschauer and Christoph Marty Johannes Aschauer and Christoph Marty
  • WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF

Abstract. Historic measurements are often temporally incomplete and may contain longer periods of missing data whereas climatological analyses require continuous measurement records. This is also valid for historic manual snow depth (HS) measurement time series, where even whole winters can be missing in a station record and suitable methods have to be found to reconstruct the missing data. Daily in-situ HS data from 126 nivo-meteorological stations in Switzerland in an altitudinal range of 230 to 2536 m above sea level is used to compare six different methods for reconstructing long gaps in manual HS time series by performing a "leave-one-winter-out" cross-validation in 21 winters at 33 evaluation stations. Synthetic gaps of one winter length are filled with bias corrected data from the best correlated neighboring station (BSC), inverse distance weighted (IDW) spatial interpolation, a weighted normal ratio (WNR) method, Elastic Net (ENET) regression, Random Forest (RF) regression and a temperature index snow model (SM). Methods that use neighboring station data are tested in two station networks with different density. The ENET, RF, SM and WNR methods are able to reconstruct missing data with a coefficient of determination (r2) above 0.8 regardless of the two station networks used. Median RMSE in the filled winters is below 5 cm for all methods. The two annual climate indicators, average snow depth in a winter (HSavg) and maximum snow depth in a winter (HSmax), can be well reproduced by ENET, RF, SM and WNR with r2 above 0.85 in both station networks. For the inter-station approaches, scores for the number of snow days with HS ≥ 1 cm (dHS1) are clearly weaker and except for BCS positively biased with RMSE of 18–33 days. SM reveals the best performance with r2 of 0.93 and RMSE of 15 days for dHS1. Snow depth seems to be a relatively good-natured parameter when it comes to gap filling of HS data with neighboring stations in a climatological use case. However, when station networks get sparse and if the focus is set on dHS1, temperature index snow models can serve as a suitable alternative to classic inter-station gap filling approaches.

Johannes Aschauer and Christoph Marty

Status: open (until 15 Jul 2021)

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Johannes Aschauer and Christoph Marty

Model code and software

source code: Evaluating methods for reconstructing large gaps in historic snow depth time series Johannes Aschauer https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4785141

Johannes Aschauer and Christoph Marty

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Short summary
Methods for reconstruction of winter long data gaps in snow depth time series are compared. The methods use snow depth data from neighboring stations or calculate snow depth from temperature and precipitation data. All methods except one are able to reproduce the average snow depth and maximum snow depth in a winter reasonably well. For reconstructing the number of snow days with snow depth ≥ 1 cm, results suggest to use a snow model instead of relying on data from neighboring stations.