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Snow saltation threshold measurements in a drifting-snow wind tunnel

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Wind tunnel measurements of snowdrift in a turbulent, logarithmic velocity boundary layer have been made in Davos, Switzerland, using natural snow. Regression analysis gives the drift threshold friction velocity (u*t), assuming an exponential drift profile and a simple drift to friction velocity relationship. Measurements over 15 snow covers show that u*t is influenced more by snow density and particle size than by ambient temperature and humidity, and varies from 0.27 to 0.69 m s−1. Schmidt's threshold algorithm and a modified version used in SNOWPACK (a snow-cover model) agree well with observations if small bond sizes are assumed. Using particle hydraulic diameters, obtained from image processing, Bagnold's threshold parameter is 0.18. Roughness lengths (z0) vary between snow covers but are constant until the start of drift. Threshold roughness lengths are proportional to u2*t. The influence of macroscopic objects on the roughness length is shown by the lower values measured over the smooth and flat snow surface of the wind tunnel (0.04 ≤ z0 ≤ 0.13 mm), compared to field measurements. Mean drifting-snow grain sizes for mainly new and partly decomposed snow are 100–175 m, and independent of surface particle size.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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