On the saltation of fresh snow in a wind tunnel: Profile characterization and single particle statistics

M. Guala, C. Manes, A. Clifton, M. Lehning

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We present experimental results on the snow drift in a turbulent boundary layer over a flat fresh snow-covered surface. Vertical profiles of mass flux and of the distribution of particle diameters were obtained by means of a pair of Snow Particle Counters parallel with measurements of the stream-wise velocity profile. The aim of the paper is to discuss current parameterizations of the vertical mass flux profile for fresh snow and to investigate the range of timescales involved in a developing saltation layer occurring in a turbulent boundary layer. The novelty of the work consists of using an intact fresh snow cover as an erodible surface able to provide realistic snow crystals as drifting particles. Results show that (1) the parameters scaling the vertical mass flux profiles of fresh snow can significantly differ from those given in the literature for ice or compacted snow particles; (2) though drifting snow covers an extremely wide range of temporal scales, the mean time interval between saltating particles <Δt> is the key timescale of the saltation process; (3) <Δt> allows for the optimal reconstruction of the mass flux as a continuous signal and for neglecting the effects related to the heterogeneous distribution of particle size on the mass flux. Implications on the modeling of snow drift and on the processing of field observations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberF03024
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 24 2008


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