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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
08 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Snow farming: Conserving snow over the summer season
Thomas Grünewald1, Michael Lehning1,2, and Fabian Wolfsperger1 1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Flüelastrasse 11, 7260 Davos, Switzerland
2Cryos, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, GRAO 402 – Station 2, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Abstract. Summer storage of snow for winter touristic purpose has seen an increasing interest in the last years. Covering large snow piles with materials such as sawdust enables to conserve more than two thirds of the initial snow volume. We present detailed mass balance measurements of two sawdust covered snow piles obtained by terrestrial laser scanning during summer 2015. Results indicate that 74 % and 63 % of the snow volume remained over the summer. If snow mass is considered instead of volume, the values increase to 85 % and 72 % which is attributed to settling and densification of the snow. Additionally, we adapted the one-dimensional, physically based snow cover model SNOWPACK to perform simulations of the sawdust covered snow piles. Model results and measurement agreed extremely well at the point scale. Moreover, we analyzed the contribution of the different terms of the energy balance to snow ablation for a pile covered with a 40 cm thick sawdust layer and a pile without insulation. Shortwave radiation was the dominant source of energy for both scenarios but the moist sawdust caused strong cooling by long-wave emission and negative sensible and latent heat fluxes. This cooling effect reduces the surface energy balance by a factor or 12. As a result only 9 % of the net shortwave energy remained available for melt. Finally, sensitivity studies of the parameters thickness of the sawdust layer, air temperature, precipitation and wind speed were performed. We show that sawdust thickness has a tremendous effect on snow loss. Higher temperatures and wind speeds increase snow ablation but are less important. No significant effect of additional precipitation could be found as the sawdust remained wet during the entire summer. However, switching of precipitation of completely would strongly increase melt.

Citation: Grünewald, T., Lehning, M., and Wolfsperger, F.: Snow farming: Conserving snow over the summer season, The Cryosphere Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Thomas Grünewald et al.
Thomas Grünewald et al.
Thomas Grünewald et al.


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Short summary
Snowfarming is the conservation of snow during summer. Large snow piles are covered with a saw-dust insulation layer, reducing melt and guaranteeing a specific amount of snow available in autumn independent of the weather conditions. Snow volumes changes of two heaps were monitored showing that about 1/3 of the snow was lost. Model simulations confirmed the large effect of the insulation on energy balance and melt. The model can now be used as a tool to examine future snowfarming projects.
Snowfarming is the conservation of snow during summer. Large snow piles are covered with a...