Mathias Thierry Pierre Bavay, Francesca Carletti, Michael Lehning, Adrien Michel
This study compares the ability of two degree-day models (Poli-Hydro and a degree-day implementation of Alpine3D) and one full energy-balance melt model (Alpine3D) to predict the discharge on two partly glacierized Alpine catchments of different size and intensity of exploitation, under present conditions and climate change as projected at the end of the century. For present climate, the magnitude of snow melt predicted by Poli-Hydro is sensibly lower than the one predicted by the other melt schemes, and the melting season is delayed by one month. This difference can be explained by the combined effect of the reduced complexity of the melting scheme and the reduced computational temporal resolution. The degree-day implementation of Alpine3D reproduces a melt season closer to the one obtained with its full solver; in fact, the onset of the degree-day mode still depends upon the full energy-balance solver, thus not bringing any particular benefit in terms of inputs and computational load, unlike with Poli-Hydro. Under climate change conditions, Alpine3D is more sensitive than Poli-Hydro, reproducing discharge curves and volumes shifted by one month earlier as a consequence of the earlier onset of snow melt. Despite their benefits, the coarser temporal computational resolution and the fixed monthly degree-days of simpler melt models like Poli-Hydro make them controversial to use for climate change applications with respect to energy-balance ones. Nevertheless, under strong river regulation, the influence of calibration might even overshadow the benefits of a full energy-balance scheme.