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Influence of snow type and temperature on snow viscosity

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Three spontaneous avalanches were observed in Lia, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, each occurring naturally under similar temperature conditions. Automatic measurements of temperature inside the snowpack led to examination of the triggering of avalanches in cold conditions following a rapid drop in temperature. The mechanical properties of ice depend on the slab temperature and I ask: could a rapid temperature change affect the mechanical properties differently considering a slab consisting of (1) rounded grains or (2) faceted grains? Snow is considered as a foam of ice crystals, and triaxial deformation tests are performed at constant strain rate to examine the influence of temperature and grain type on the mechanical properties. Although the snow densities in the two sample sets were almost identical, some differences due to grain type were observed. In particular, the set with faceted grain snow started to flow at higher stresses than the set with rounded grains.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2013

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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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