Skip to main content Accessibility help

Wind and drifting-snow gust factor in an Alpine context

  • Florence Naaim-Bouvet (a1), Mohamed Naaim (a1), Hervé Bellot (a1) and Kouichi Nishimura (a2)


Wind-transported snow is a common phenomenon in cold windy areas, creating snowdrifts and contributing significantly to the loading of avalanche release areas. It is therefore necessary to take into account snowdrift formation both in terms of predicting and controlling drift patterns. Particularly in an Alpine context, drifting snow is a nonstationary phenomenon, which has not been taken into account in physical modeling carried out in wind tunnels or in numerical simulations. Only a few studies have been conducted to address the relation between wind gusts and drifting-snow gusts. Consequently, the present study was conducted at the Lac Blanc pass (2700ma.s.l.) experimental site in the French Alps using a snow particle counter and a cup anemometer in order to investigate drifting-snow gusts. First, it was shown that the behavior of the wind gust factor was coherent with previous studies. Then the definition of wind gust factor was extended to a drifting-snow gust factor. Sporadic drifting-snow events were removed from the analysis to avoid artificially high drifting-snow gust factors. Two trends were identified: (1) A high 1 s peak and a mean 10 min drifting-snow gust factor, greater than expected, were observed for events that exhibited a gamma distribution on the particle width histogram. The values of drifting-snow gust factors decreased with increasing gust duration. (2) Small drifting-snow gusts (i.e. smaller than or of the same order of magnitude as wind gusts) were also observed. However, in this case, they were systematically characterized by a snow particle size distribution that differed from the two-parameter gamma probability density function.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Wind and drifting-snow gust factor in an Alpine context
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Wind and drifting-snow gust factor in an Alpine context
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Wind and drifting-snow gust factor in an Alpine context
      Available formats



Hide All
Ágústsson, H. and Ólafsson, H.. 2004. Mean gust factors in complex terrain. Meteorol. Z., 13(2), 149–155.
Bellot, H., Trouvilliez, A., Naaim-Bouvet, F., Genthon, C. and Gallée, H.. 2011. Present weather-sensor tests for measuring drifting snow. Ann. Glaciol., 52(58) (see paper in this issue).
Budd, W. 1966. The drifting of nonuniform snow particles. Antarct. Res. Ser., 9, 59–70.
Butterfield, G.R. 1993. Sand transport response to fluctuating wind velocity turbulence. In Clifford, N.J., French, J.R. and Hardisty, J., eds. Turbulence: perspectives on flow and sediment transport. Chichester, John Wiley and Sons, 305–333.
Cierco, F.-X., Naaim-Bouvet, F. and Bellot, H.. 2007. Acoustic sensors for snowdrift measurements: how should they be used for research purposes? Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 49(1), 74–87.
Deaves, D.M. 1993. Analysis of gust factors for use in assessing wind hazard. J. Wind Eng. Ind. Aerodyn., 45(2), 175–188.
Dover, S.E. 1993. Numerical modelling of blowing snow. (PhD thesis, University of Leeds.)
Godthelp, H., Milgram, P. and Blaauw, G.W.. 1984. The development of a time-related measure to describe driving strategy. Human Factors, 26(3), 257–268.
Gordon, M. and Taylor, P.A.. 2009. Measurements of blowing snow, Part I: particle shape, size distribution, velocity, and number flux at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 55(1), 63–74.
Kobayashi, D. 1972. Studies of snow transport in low-level drifting snow. Contrib. Inst. Low Temp. Sci., Ser. A 24, 1–58.
Kosugi, K., Nishimura, K. and Maeno, N.. 1992. Snow ripples and their contribution to the mass transport in drifting snow. Bound.-Layer Meteorol., 59(1–2), 59–66.
Le Bouteiller, C., Naaim-Bouvet, F., Mathys, N. and Lavé, J.. In press. Modelling sediment fining during transport with abrasion and fragmentation. J. Geophys. Res. (10.1029/2010JF001823.)
Lehning, M. and 8 others. 2002. Snow drift: acoustic sensors for avalanche warning and research. Natur. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. (NHESS), 2(3/4), 121–128.
Liljequist, G.H. 1957. Energy exchange of an Antarctic snow-field: wind structure in the low layer (Maudheim 71˚03' S, 10˚56' W). Norwegian–British–Swedish Antarctic Expedition, 1949–52. Sci. Results, 2(1C), 185–234.
McElwaine, J.N., Maeno, N. and Sugiura, K.. 2004. The splash function for snow from wind-tunnel measurements. Ann. Glaciol., 38, 71–78.
Meunier, M.-A. 1999. Envol et transport de particules en couche limite instationnaire. (PhD thesis, University of Valenciennes.)
Michaux, J.-L., Naaim-Bouvet, F., Naaim, M., Lehning, M. and Guyomarc’h, G.. 2002. Effect of unsteady wind on drifting snow: first investigations. Natur. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. (NHESS), 2(3–4), 129–136.
Mitsuta, Y. and Tsukamoto, O.. 1989. Studies on spatial structure of wind gust. J. Appl. Meteorol., 28(11), 1155–1160.
Naaim-Bouvet, F. and Naaim, M.. 1998. Snowdrift modeling in a wind-tunnel: vertical and horizontal variation of the snow flux. Ann. Glaciol., 26, 212–216.
Naaim-Bouvet, F., Bellot, H. and Naaim, M.. 2010. Back analysis of drifting-snow measurements over an instrumented mountainous site. Ann. Glaciol., 51(54), 207–217.
Nishimura, K. and Nemoto, M.. 2005. Blowing snow at Mizuho station, Antarctica. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London, Ser. A, 363(1832), 1647–1662.
Sato, T., Kimura, T., Ishimaru, T. and Maruyama, T.. 1993. Field test of a new snow-particle counter (SPC) system. Ann. Glaciol., 18, 149–154.
Schmidt, R.A. 1982. Vertical profiles of wind speed, snow concentration and humidity in blowing snow. Bound.-Layer Meteorol., 23(2), 223–246.
Sugiura, K., Nishimura, K., Maeno, N. and Kimura, T.. 1998. Measurements of snow mass flux and transport rate at different particle diameters in drifting snow. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 27(2), 83–89.
Takeuchi, M. 1980. Vertical profile and horizontal increase of drift-snow transport. J. Glaciol., 26(94), 481–492.
Van der Horst, A.R.A. 1990. A time-based analysis of road user behavior in normal and critical encounters. Soesterberg, TNO Institute for Perception.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed