US Army Corps of Engineers
Engineer Research and Development Center

SNTHERM

Snow Thermal Model

Published Nov. 19, 2012
SNTHERM models the many physical processes involved in snowpack energy balance. ERDC Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

SNTHERM models the many physical processes involved in snowpack energy balance. ERDC Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

For Accurate Predictions of Snowmelt in Remote Regions

Flooding from snowmelt in mountainous areas worldwide is a concern. Trees and cloud cover make it impossible to see or accurately measure snow cover. Using SNTHERM (SNow THERmal Model) simulations in conjunction with satellite imagery, scientists can accurately predict snowmelt in even the most remote locations.

 

Complex Calculations Made Simple

SNTHERM, a software product designed by ERDC’s Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), is a physically based snow and soil model that is forced by meteorologically determined surface fluxes. It simulates most in-snow properties and processes, such as heat conduction, water flow, melt, vapor flow, compaction, grain growth, and in-depth solar absorption. As output, it provides snow depth, profiles of snow temperature, water content, density, grain size, and surface fluxes of sensible heat and evaporation. Optionally, it computes fluxes of solar and longwave radiation and albedo. The underlying soil component contains only a thermal equation, and thus models temperature profiles and frost depth, but not water or vapor flow. Any number of user-supplied soil strata or material types are permitted. The code has been publicly available for several years and is widely used both in the United States and abroad by government agencies, universities, and private industry.

 

Applications

Used both as a point model and as input for distributed snow models, SNTHERM has been applied to a variety of military and civil programs and has been exercised over a range of global latitudes that experience winter conditions. Applications include:

  • Predict high water marks to aid in the planning of bridge construction projects by US Army Corps of Engineers combat engineers in Bosnia
  • Measure the melt rate of the polar ice caps to assist global climate change researchers
  • Assist the US Department of Transportation’s testing for road icing hazard

 

Distribution  and Cost

The free SNTHERM code has been publicly available for several years and is widely used both in the United States and abroad by government agencies, universities, and private industry. SNTHERM is written in FORTRAN 77, runs on UNIX and PC-based platforms, and is validated, flexible, and easy to use.The original code released in 1989 is the latest available.

 

Documentation, Training, and Support

Training is not available.

 

Contact Us

Susan.Frankenstein@usace.army.mil, Ph.D., 603.646.4812
Terrestrial & Cryospheric Sciences Branch (CEERD-RR-G)
US Army Engineer Research and Development Center / Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory