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Experimental determination of snow sublimation rate and stable-isotopic exchange

  • T.A. Neumann (a1), M.R. Albert (a2), R. Lomonaco (a1), C. Engel (a1) (a3), Z. Courville (a2) and F. Perron (a2)...

Abstract

Snow sublimation is a fundamental process that affects the snow crystal structure and is important for ice-core interpretation, remote sensing, snow hydrology and chemical processes in snow. Prior studies have shown that sublimation can change the isotopic content of the remaining snow; these studies have inferred sublimation rates using field data, and were unable to control many of the environmental parameters that determine sublimation rate (e.g. temperature, relative humidity, snow microstructure). We present sublimation rate measurements on snow samples in the laboratory, where we have controlled many of these parameters simultaneously. We use the same experimental apparatus to determine sublimation rate, investigate the isotopic effects of sublimation, and study the isotopic exchange between vapor and solid. Our results suggest that pore spaces in snow are almost always at saturation vapor pressure; undersaturation may be possible in large pore spaces or in regions of rapid interstitial airflow. We present a revised formulation for determining the mass-transfer coefficient for snow as a linear function of Reynolds number (hm = 0.566Re + 0.075), estimate the fractionation coefficient for sublimating snow, and provide evidence for isotopic exchange between vapor and solid.

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References

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