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Heat flow from wet to dry snowpack layers and associated faceting

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Layers of faceted crystals adjacent to crusts form the failure layers for some unexpected dry-slab avalanches. This paper focuses on the case of facets that form when dry snow overlies wet snow. From a basic equation for heat flow in solids, the approximate freezing time of the wet layer is derived. Seven experiments are described in which a wet layer was placed between two dry-snow layers in a cold laboratory. Measured freezing times are comparable to the freezing times from the approximate solution assuming that latent heat from the irreducible water content flowed up. In four of the experiments, evidence of faceting was observed at the base of the upper dry snow layer within 5 hours and before the wet layer froze. In all seven experiments faceting was observed in the upper dry layer after the wet layer froze. Simulations performed with the snow-cover model SNOWPACK yield freezing times that agree reasonably with the approximate solution and allow the influence of various parameters on the results to be explored. In addition, simulated temperatures and grain evolution are compared with observations, showing good agreement.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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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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