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Snow texture: a comparison of empirical versus simulated texture index for Alpine snow

  • C. Plelmeier (a1), M. Schneebeli (a1) and T. Stucki (a1)

Abstract

The texture of snow has a great impact on the mechanical and thermal properties of a snowpack. The texture index (TI) is a new concept to quantify the texture of snow at the micro- and mesoscale, a scale at which the properties of snow layers are responsible for the stability of a snowpack. It is calculated by taking the ratio of mean grain-size (mm) of snow to density (kg m−3) of snow in a given layer. It combines a microstructural with a mesostructural parameter. An empirically derived TI is compared with a simulated TI for laboratory experimental snow and natural snow profiles. TheTI was calculated throughout the development of three temperature-gradient snow experiments from laboratory measurements of grain-size and density. In a one-dimensional finite-element snowpack model (SNOWPACK), the development of the mean grain-size and density of these snow samples was simulated. It can be shown that the measured TI can be predicted by the modelled TI. Furthermore, three natural snow profiles from the Weissfluhjoch (Switzerland) test-field are compared with their simulations in terms of TI. This comparison reveals shortcomings in the measurement of fundamental parameters. It also shows the dependency of a good physical model on quantitative process descriptions at the microscale TheTI can be estimated using the force signal of the SnowMicroPen, a new high-resolution snow micropenetrometer. It is suggested that more accurate classical measurements combined with penetrometer measurements in the immediate vicinity of the snow profile will allow better verification of SNOWPACK simulations.

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References

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