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Snow texture: a comparison of empirical versus simulated texture index for Alpine snow

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The texture of snow has a great impact on the mechanical and thermal properties of a snow pack. The texture index (TI) is a new concept to quantify the texture of snow at the micro- and mesoscale, a scale at which the properties of snow layers are responsible for the stability of a snow pack. It is calculated by taking the ratio of mean grain-size (mm) of snow to density (kg m−3) of snow in a given layer. It combines a microstructural with a mesostructural parameter. An empirically derived TI is compared with a simulated TI for laboratory experimental snow and natural snow profiles. The TI was calculated throughout the development of three temperature-gradient snow experiments from laboratory measurements of grain-size and density. In a one-dimensional finite-element snow pack model (SNOWPACK), the development of the mean grain-size and density of these snow samples was simulated. It can be shown that the measured TI can be predicted by the modelled TI. Furthermore, three natural snow profiles from the Weissfluhjoch (Switzerland) test-field are compared with their simulations in terms of TI. This comparison reveals shortcomings in the measurement of fundamental parameters. It also shows the dependency of a good physical model on quantitative process descriptions at the microscale. The TI can be estimated using the force signal of the Snow MicroPen, a new high-resolution snow micropenetrometer. It is suggested that more accurate classical measurements combined with penetrometer measurements in the immediate vicinity of the snow profile will allow better verification of SNOWPACK simulations.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2001-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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