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Change in snow strength caused by rain

  • Yoichi Ito (a1), Hiroki Matsushita (a2), Hiroyuki Hirashima (a3), Yasuhiko Ito (a1) and Tomoyuki Noro (a1)...

Abstract

Rain-on-snow events can cause wet snow avalanches. Laboratory experiments were carried out to investigate the change in snow strength with increasing water content through rainwater percolation. Snowpack was artificially prepared consisting of a thin ice layer and fine compacted snow, and rainfall (2mmh–1) was artificially applied 22–25.5 and 49–52 hours after the snowpack was formed. Snow hardness was measured with a push–pull force gauge to indicate the snow strength before and after each rain-on-snow event. After the first rainfall, the upper half of the snowpack became wet and a rapid decrease in snow hardness was observed. After the second rainfall the rainwater penetrated the ice layer, high water content was observed above the ice layer but the hardness exceeded that estimated from an empirical relationship between hardness and water content. Micrographs of the snow particles suggest that the delay in grain coarsening observed near the wetting front induces the harder than estimated snow condition.

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References

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