Snowdrift formation has been monitored in the eastern Spanish Pyrenees since 1992 at an experimental study plot at the La Molina ski resort between 2000 and 2400 m. Several instruments were installed to characterize the wind, quantify snow-mass flux, detect snowdnfting episodes and measure the evolution of a natural snowdrift.
This plot is situated within a natural snowdrift and is equipped with measuring instruments such as snow poles, three columns of snow collectors (prismatic boxes) facing the dominant winds and an anemographic station.
During the 4 years of data acquisition, the thickness of the snowdrift has been measured and the snow collectors checked once each week. An active interest has been taken in the relationship between snowdrift development and drifting snow during a wind episode.
The relationship observed between wind, drifting snow and the development of the snowdrift is presented The results show: (1) the amount of snow collected in the snow collectors is related to wind intensity and to the availability and the quality of drifting snow, and (2) wind intensity principally affects the relative location of maximum snowdrift growth rather than controlling the thickness of the snowdrift.
By comparing the evolution of the snowdrift with Tabler’s (1975) model, we observed that it fits with the topographic features of our study area for the three seasons shown.