In the calculation of the melting of a patchy snow cover, the energy advected from the adjacent bare soil to the snow surface is an important consideration. The quantity or rate of energy advected depends on the fetches and sizes of snow and bare ground patches. Any successful method to estimate advection will necessarily require the incorporation of relationships describing the same. Complex boundary-layer methods require detailed spatial knowledge of the patch sizes, wind direction and fetch distances, and are computationally intensive. A physically based approach that can be spatially applied using distributions of snow patch geometry is required. This paper presents a new approach, in which boundary-layer integration is used to provide a means of calculating the amount of energy removed by the snow patch surface as warmer air moves over it. The method is reduced to a simple parametric form, and the relationships describing the coefficients required for its application are developed. The applicability of this new approach is discussed in light of the fractal nature of snow patches, the relationship between the individual patch length and area, and the distribution of patch sizes as they develop and disappear on the landscape. Copyright 2002 Crown in the right of Canada. Published by John Wiley Sons, Ltd.
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