Evolution of the Specific Surface Area of Snow in a High Temperature Gradient Metamorphism

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Xuan Wang, Dartmouth College, Thayer School of Engineering, Hanover, NH, United States and Ian Baker, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, United States
The structural evolution of low-density snow under a high temperature gradient over a short period usually takes place in the surface layers during diurnal recrystallization or on a clear, cold night. To relate snow microstructures with their thermal properties, we combined X-ray computed microtomography (micro-CT) observations with numerical simulations. Different types of snow were tested over a large range of TGs (100 K m-1- 500 K m-1). The Specific Surface Area (SSA) was used to characterize the temperature gradient metamorphism (TGM). The magnitude of the temperature gradient and the initial snow type both influence the evolution of SSA. The SSA evolution under TGM was dominated by grain growth and the formation of complex surfaces. Fresh snow experienced a logarithmic decrease of SSA with time, a feature been observed previously by others [Calonne et al., 2014; Schneebeli and Sokratov, 2004; Taillandier et al., 2007]. However, for initial rounded and connected snow structures, the SSA will increase during TGM. Understanding the SSA increase is important in order to predict the enhanced uptake of chemical species by snow or increase in snow albedo.

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