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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-56
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-56
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 03 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 03 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Liquid-water content and water distribution of wet snow using electrical monitoring

Pirmin Philipp Ebner, Aaron Coulin, Joël Borner, Fabian Wolfsperger, Michael Hohl, and Martin Schneebeli Pirmin Philipp Ebner et al.
  • WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos Dorf, 7260, Switzerland

Abstract. Snow exists in a wide range of temperatures and around its melting point snow becomes a three-phase material. A better understanding of wet snow and the first starting point of water percolation in the seasonal snowpack is essential for snow pack stability, snow melt run-off and remote sensing. In order to induce and measure precisely the liquid water and the corresponding dielectric properties inside a snow sample, an experimental setup was developed. Using microwave heating at 18 kHz allows the use of dielectric properties of ice to enable heat to be dissipated homogeneously through the entire volume of snow. A desired liquid water content inside the snow sample could then be created and analysed in a micro-computer tomography. Based on the electrical monitoring a promising perspective for retrieving water content and water distribution in the snowpack is given. The heating process and extraction of water content are mainly dependent on the morphological properties of snow, the temperature and the liquid water content. The experimental observation can be divided in three different heating processes affecting the dielectric properties of snow for different densities: (1) dry snow heating process up to 0 °C indicating a temperature and snow structure dependency of the dielectric property of snow; (2) wet snow heating at stagnating temperature of 0 °C and the presence of uniformed distributed liquid water changes the dielectric properties. The presence of liquid water decreases the impedance of the snow sample until water starts to percolate; and (3) the start of water percolation is between 5–12 water volume fraction depending on the snow density and confirms the literature findings. The onset of water percolation initiated an inhomogeneity in snow and water distribution, strongly affecting the dielectric properties of the snow. These findings are pertinent to the interpretation of the snow melt run-off of spring snow. These laboratory measurements allow to find the narrow range of the starting point of water percolation in coarse-grained snow and to extract the corresponding dielectric properties which is important for remote sensing.

Pirmin Philipp Ebner et al.

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Pirmin Philipp Ebner et al.

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Short summary
These laboratory measurements allow to analyse wet snow and to find the narrow range of the starting point of water percolation in coarse-grained snow. Based on the electrical monitoring a promising perspective for retrieving water content and water distribution in the snowpack is given. The water distribution is analysed using micro-computer tomography to find preferential spots of the accumulated water. These findings are pertinent to the interpretation of the snow melt run-off of spring snow.
These laboratory measurements allow to analyse wet snow and to find the narrow range of the...
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