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A microstructural dry-snow metamorphism model for kinetic crystal growth

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Historically, dry-snow metamorphism has been classified by the thermal environment and thermodynamic processes in a snowpack. Snow experiencing predominantly macroscopic isothermal conditions develops different microstructure than snow subjected to large temperature gradients. As such, much previous research has been categorized by and limited to specific thermal conditions. The current research expands a generalized approach for the movement of heat and mass to include a snow crystal kinetic growth model. An existing spiral defect propagation theory for kinetic growth on simple faceted geometry is utilized. Primary crystal habit as a function of temperature is incorporated. A model of heat and mass transfer through an ice and pore structure is coupled with phase-change thermodynamics during kinetic growth. A kinetic growth microstructure model is developed and integrated into heat and mass transfer representations, which are solved using finite-difference techniques. The kinetic morphology model approximates frequently observed hopper-type crystals. The snow microstructure is allowed to change at every step, resulting in a transient description of kinetic growth metamorphism. Variable kinetic growth rates are demonstrated based on temperature and on crystallographic orientation relative to a temperature gradient. Crystals preferentially aligned with the temperature gradient have significantly higher growth rates, supporting previous observations of predominant crystal habits developing under temperature gradient conditions. Grain-size dispersion increase with time is demonstrated and supported experimentally in the literature. A dominant grain growth theory based on crystallographic orientation that has been previously postulated is supported. A broad range of metamorphic geometric parameters and thermal conditions may now be simulated with a single model.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2009

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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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