Snowcover areal depletion curves inferred from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) are validated and then applied in NASA ' s catchment-based land surface model (CLSM) for numerical simulations of hydrometeorological processes in the Kuparuk River basin (KRB) of Alaska. The results demonstrate that the MODIS snowcover fraction f derived from a simple relationship in terms of the normalized difference snow index compares well with Landsat values over the range 20 <= f <= 100%. For f < 20%, however, MODIS 500 m subpixel data underestimate the amount of snow by up to 13% compared with Landsat at spatial resolutions of 30 m binned to equivalent 500 m pixels. After a bias correction, MODIS snow areal depletion curves during the spring transition period of 2002 for the KRB exhibit similar features to those derived from surface-based observations. These results are applied in the CLSM subgrid-scale snow parameterization that includes a deep and a shallow snowcover fraction. Simulations of the evolution of the snowpack and of freshwater discharge rates for the KRB over a period of I I years are then analysed with the inclusion of this feature. It is shown that persistent snowdrifts on the arctic landscape, associated with a secondary plateau in the snow areal depletion curves, are hydrologically important. An automated method is developed to generate the shallow and deep snowcover fractions from MODIS snow areal depletion curves. This provides the means to apply the CLSM subgrid-scale snow parameterization in all watersheds subject to seasonal snowcovers. Improved simulations and predictions of the global surface energy and water budgets are expected with the incorporation of the MODIS snow data into the CLSM. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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