Attenuation of wind-induced pressure perturbations in alpine snow

Stephen A. Drake, Hendrik Huwald, Marc B. Parlange, John S. Selker, Anne W. Nolin, Chad W. Higgins

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Windpumping has been identified as a process that could potentially enhance sublimation of surface snow at high forcing frequency and spawn air movement deeper in firn at lower frequencies. We performed an experiment to examine the relationship between high-frequency wind and pressure measurements within the top meter of an alpine snowpack and compared experimental results with two theoretical predictions. We find that both theoretical predictions underestimate high-frequency perturbation pressure attenuation with depth in the near-surface snowpack and the discrepancy between theory and measurement increases with perturbation pressure frequency. The impact of this result for near-surface snow is that potential enhanced sublimation will occur over a shallower snow depth than these two theories predict. Correspondingly, interstitial air mixing at depth in firn will be driven by lower frequencies than these two theories predict. While direct measurement of these energy-rich lower frequencies is beyond the scope of this paper, stationary pressure measurements validate the presence of a pressure field that could drive near-surface circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-683
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number234
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Glacier meteorology
  • Ice chronology/dating
  • Snow/ice surface processes
  • Windpumping

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