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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-97
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-97
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Jun 2019

Research article | 04 Jun 2019

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

Validating modeled critical crack length for crack propagation in the snow cover model SNOWPACK

Bettina Richter1, Jürg Schweizer1, Mathias W. Rotach2, and Alec van Herwijnen1 Bettina Richter et al.
  • 1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Abstract. Data on snow stratigraphy and snow instability are of key importance for avalanche forecasting. Snow cover models can improve the spatial and temporal resolution of such data, especially if they also provide information on snow instability. Recently, a new stability criterion, namely a parameterization for the critical crack length, was implemented into the snow cover model SNOWPACK. To validate and improve this parameterization, we therefore used data from three years of field experiments performed close to two automatic weather station above Davos, Switzerland. Monitoring the snowpack on a weekly basis allowed to investigate limitations of the model. Based on 145 experiments we replaced two variables of the original parameterization, which were not sufficiently well modeled, with a fit factor thereby decreasing the normalized root mean square error from 1.80 to 0.28. With this fit factor, the improved parameterization accounts for the grain size resulting in lower critical crack lengths for snow layers with larger grains. This also improved an automatic weak layer detection method using a simple local minimum by increasing the probability of detection from 0.26 to 0.91 and decreased the false alarm ratio from 0.89 to 0.47.

Bettina Richter et al.
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Short summary
We suggested an improved parameterization for the critical crack length, to better identify weak layers in simulated snow profiles and evaluate their stability. Therefore, we compared three years of field data to simulations with the snow cover model SNOWPACK. The refined parameterization greatly improved the match between observed and modeled critical crack lengths compared to the original parameterization and highly increased the probability of detection for weak layers.
We suggested an improved parameterization for the critical crack length, to better identify weak...
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