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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-24
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-24
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Feb 2020

Submitted as: research article | 25 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Ice layer formation in the snowpack due to preferential water flow: case study at an alpine site

Louis Quéno1, Charles Fierz1, Alec van Herwijnen1, Dylan Longridge1, and Nander Wever2 Louis Quéno et al.
  • 1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland
  • 2Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. Ice layers may form in the snowpack due to preferential water flow, with impacts on the snowpack mechanichal, hydrological and thermodynamical properties. This case study at a high-altitude alpine site aims at monitoring their formation and evolution during winter 2017 thanks to the combined use of a comprehensive observation dataset at daily frequency and detailed snowpack modelling. In particular, daily SnowMicroPen penetration resistance profiles enabled to better identify ice layer temporal and spatial heterogeneity when associated with traditional snowpack profiles and measurements, while upward-looking ground penetrating radar measurements enabled to detect the water front and better describe the snowpack wetting when associated with lysimeter runoff measurements. One-dimensional snowpack simulations with the SNOWPACK model successfully represented the formation of some ice layers when using Richards equation and preferential flow domain parameterization, with a newly implemented ice reservoir. Detailed snowpack simulations with snow microstructure representation, associated with high-resolution comprehensive observation dataset were shown relevant for studying and modelling such complex phenomena, despite limitations inherent to 1D modelling.

Louis Quéno et al.

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Louis Quéno et al.

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Short summary
Ice layers may form in the snowpack due to preferential water flow, with impacts on the snowpack mechanichal, hydrological and thermodynamical properties. We studied their formation and evolution at a high-altitude alpine site, combining a comprehensive observation dataset at daily frequency (with traditional snowpack observations, penetration resistance and radar measurements) and detailed snowpack modelling, including a new parameterization of ice formation in the 1D SNOWPACK model.
Ice layers may form in the snowpack due to preferential water flow, with impacts on the snowpack...
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