Strong winds can disrupt the thermal regime in seasonal snow because of the variation in surface pressure associated with surface features like dunes and ripples. Topographical features of shorter wavelengths produce stronger surface flows, but the flow decays rapidly with depth. Longer-wavelength features produce weaker surface flows but the flow decays more slowly with depth. The flow may only be strong enough to disrupt the temperature field for features of wavelengths on the scale of meters or tens of meters at wind speeds of 10 m/s or more.
Other possible causes of windpumping have been examined but they do not appear to be as significant. Rapid pressure perturbations due to turbulence produce very little displacement of the air because of the high frequency and low amplitude. Barometric pressure changes cause compression and expansion of the air in the pore space, but the rate is too low to have much effect.