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Spatial variability of micropenetration resistance in snow layers on a small slope

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The mechanisms leading to dry-snow slab release are influenced by the three-dimensional variability of the snow cover. We measured 113 profiles of penetration resistance with a snow micropenetrometer on an alpine snow slope. Seven distinct layers were visually identified in all snow micropenetrometer profiles. The penetration resistance of adjacent layers did not change abruptly, but gradually across layer boundaries that were typically 2 mm thick. In two layers, penetration resistance varied around 200% over the grid, possibly due to wind effects during or after layer deposition. Penetration resistance varied around 25% in five layers. Statistically significant slope-scale linear trends were found for all layers. The semivariogram was used to describe the spatial variation. Penetration resistance was autocorrelated, but the scale of variation was layer-specific. A buried layer of surface hoar was the most critical weak layer. It had little spatial variation. The layers in the slab above had higher spatial variation. The penetration resistance of each snow layer had distinct geostatistical properties, caused by the depositional processes.

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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