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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-253
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-253
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 06 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 06 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

A model for French-press experiments of dry snow compaction

Colin R. Meyer1, Kaitlin M. Keegan2, Ian Baker1, and Robert L. Hawley3 Colin R. Meyer et al.
  • 1Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA
  • 2Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557, USA
  • 3Department of Earth Science, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755, USA

Abstract. Compaction is the process by which snow densifies, storing water in alpine regions and transforming snow into ice on the surface of glaciers. Despite its importance in determining snow-water equivalent and glacier-induced sea level rise, we still lack a complete understanding of the physical mechanisms underlying snow compaction. In essence, compaction is a rheological process, where the rheology evolves with depth due to variation in temperature, pressure, humidity, meltwater. The rheology of snow compaction can be determined in a few ways, for example, through empirical investigations (e.g. Herron & Langway,1980 J. Glaciol.), by microstructural considerations (e.g. Alley, 1987 J. Phys.), or by measuring the rheology directly, which is the approach we take here. Using a ``French-press'' compression stage, Wang and Baker (2013, J. Geophys. Res.) compressed numerous snow samples of different densities. Here we derive a mixture theory for compaction and air flow through the porous snow to compare against these experimental data. We find that a plastic compaction law explains experimental results. Taking standard forms for the permeability and effective pressure as functions of the porosity, we show that this compaction mode persists for a range of densities and overburden loads. These findings suggest that measuring compaction in the lab is a promising direction for determining the rheology of snow though its many stages of densification.

Colin R. Meyer et al.
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Short summary
We describe previously published snow compaction laboratory data with a new mathematical model. Using a compression device that is similar to a "French press" with snow instead of coffee grounds, Wang and Baker (2013) squished numerous snow samples of different densities at a constant velocity to determine the force required for snow compaction. Our mathematical model for compaction includes air flow through snow and predicts the required force, in agreement with the experimental data.
We describe previously published snow compaction laboratory data with a new mathematical model....
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