Six modes of complexity of the Chameleon land surface model (CHASM) are used to explore the relationship between the complexity of the surface energy balance (SEB) formulation and the capacity of the model to explain intermodel variations in results from the Rhône-Aggregation Intercomparison Project (Rhône-AGG). At an annual time scale, differences between models identified in the Rhône-AGG experiments in the partitioning of available energy and water at the spatial scale of the Rhône Basin can be reproduced by CHASM via variations in the SEB complexity. Only two changes in the SEB complexity in the model generate statistically significant differences in the mean latent heat flux. These are the addition of a constant surface resistance to the simplest mode of CHASM and the addition of tiling and temporally and spatially variable surface resistance to produce the most complex model. Further, the only statistically significant differences in runoff occur following the addition of a constant surface resistance to the simplest mode of CHASM. As the time scale is reduced from annual to monthly, specific mechanisms begin to dominate the simulations produced by each Rhône-AGG model and introduce parameterization-specific behavior that depends on the time evolution of processes operating on longer time scales. CHASM cannot capture all this behavior by varying the SEB complexity, demonstrating the contribution to intermodel differences by hydrology and snow-related processes. Despite the increasing role of hydrology and snow in simulating processes at finer time scales, provided the constant surface resistance is included, CHASM's modes perform within the range of uncertainty illustrated by other Rhône-AGG models on seasonal and annual time scales.