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Back analysis of drifting-snow measurements over an instrumented mountainous site

  • Florence Naaim-Bouvet (a1), Hervé Bellot (a1) and Mohamed Naaim (a1)


The NEMO numerical model of drifting snow, whose general outlines are presented in this paper, is based on a physical model for saltation and turbulent diffusion. The model needs a set of input parameters including fall velocity, threshold shear velocity, shear velocity, mass concentration and roughness, which are obtained from empirical formulae and wind speed measured at a given height. To better determine the required field data in an alpine context, our experimental site, Col du Lac Blanc (2700ma.s.l.), French Alps, was first equipped with one anemometer and blowing-snow acoustic sensors, which proved not to be accurate enough for research purposes in the current state of development even though a new calibration curve was used. We therefore set up a Snow Particle Counter and we returned to the traditional, robust mechanical traps and a 10 m mast with six anemometers, two temperature sensors and a depth sensor to better determine friction velocity and aerodynamic roughness. Based on the studied drifting-snow events we conclude: (1) the proportionality of the aerodynamic roughness to the square of the friction velocity was confirmed, but with a varying proportionality ratio depending on the snowdrift event; (2) values of σsUF were relatively well approximated by empirical formulae from data originating from Antarctica, and (3) snowdrift concentration profiles obtained by Pomeroy’s semi-empirical formulae for the saltation layer coupled with a theoretical approach for the diffusion layer overestimated the concentration profiles for the studied blowing-snow event.

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