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A bonding process between grains in mechanically disaggregated snow

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Collections of disaggregated snow particles were examined in a temperature-controlled microscope stage. In addition to necks that appeared to sinter in a manner congruent with the two-particle model, there also appeared unanticipated dendritic growth, which developed on some grains and grew into the pore space. These branches developed preferentially only on part of, and in different directions on, individual grains. Some of these grew enough to join with adjacent grains that were in close proximity but not initially in contact, while the surface of the adjacent grains did not show measurable growth or loss. Growth orientation is hypothesized to be due to crystal habit dependence on temperature. Columnar growth was observed at –5°C and plate-like at –15°C. The random growth orientation is in contrast to observed source and sink development aligned with a temperature gradient imposed using a gradient stage. In this case, a source-to-sink directionality across the pore was apparent in which faceted crystals grew at the expense of neighboring source grains. The process of mechanically disaggregating snow produces numerous broken shards and sharp-edged fracture surfaces. We hypothesize that it is the sublimation of these high-surface-energy regions that provides the excess vapor to facilitate the diffusion-limited dendritic growth observed in this 'equitemperature', mechanically processed snow.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2008

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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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