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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 11 Dec 2019

Submitted as: research article | 11 Dec 2019

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

The RHOSSA campaign: Multi-resolution monitoring of the seasonal evolution of the structure and mechanical stability of an alpine snowpack

Neige Calonne1,a,*, Bettina Richter1,*, Henning Löwe1, Cecilia Cetti1, Judith ter Schure1, Alec Van Herwijnen1, Charles Fierz1, Matthias Jaggi1, and Martin Schneebeli1 Neige Calonne et al.
  • 1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos Dorf, Switzerland
  • anow at: Météo-France – CNRS, CNRM UMR 3589, Centre d’Etudes de la Neige, Grenoble, France
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. The necessity of characterizing snow through objective, physically-motivated parameters has led to new model formulations and new measurement techniques. Consequently, essential structural parameters such as density and specific surface area (for basic characterization) or mechanical parameters such as the critical crack length (for avalanche stability characterization) gradually replace the semi-empirical indices acquired from traditional stratigraphy. These advances come along with new demands and potentials for validation. To this end, we conducted the RHOSSA field campaign, in resemblance of density (ρ) and specific surface area (SSA), at the Weissfluhjoch research site in the Swiss Alps to provide a multi-instrument, multi-resolution dataset of density, SSA, and critical crack length over the complete winter season 2015–2016. In this paper, we present the design of the campaign and a basic analysis of the measurements alongside with predictions from the model SNOWPACK. To bridge between traditional and new methods, the campaign comprises traditional profiles, density cutter, IceCube, SnowMicroPen (SMP), micro-computed-tomography, propagation saw tests, and compression tests. To bridge between different temporal resolutions, the traditional weekly to bi-weekly snow pits were complemented by daily SMP measurements. From the latter, we derived a re-calibration of the statistical retrieval of density and SSA for SMP version 4 that yields an unprecedented, spatio-temporal picture of the seasonal evolution of density and SSA in a snowpack. Finally, we provide an inter-comparison of measured and modeled estimates of density and SSA for 4 characteristic layers over the entire season to demonstrate the potential of high temporal resolution monitoring for snowpack model validation.

Neige Calonne et al.
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