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Wind-blown flux rates derived from drifts at arctic snow fences

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Historically, there has been considerable interest in establishing the relationship between wind-blown snow flux (Q) and wind speed. By monitoring the drift growth at snow fences in Arctic Alaska during three winters, we computed Q for 36 distinct transport events. Each fence was instrumented with depth sounders to measure deposition rates. The majority of events (31) occurred between November and February, despite winter extending from October to June. On average, five substantial snow deposition events (SDEs) occurred at each fence per winter. The mean flux during SDEs was 0.16, 0.19 and 0.29 kg s–1 m–1 at Barrow, Imnavait Creek and Franklin Bluffs, respectively, the differences in Q explained by the different wind regimes at the three sites. To place these flux measurements in perspective, we reviewed all previous experimental values of Q, with special attention to height and time over which the fluxes were measured. The new data help fill a range of wind speeds (12–18 m s–1) where prior results have been sparse. Combined, the full data define a diffuse cloud best represented by upper and lower bounding equations Q U = 1.3×10–3 w 2.5 and Q L = 3.3×10–9 w 6.5, where w is wind speed (>5 m s–1). We suggest that these bounds, rather than a single equation, provide the best way to estimate snow fluxes.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2013-03-01

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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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