Near-surface snow particle dynamics from particle tracking velocimetry and turbulence measurements during alpine blowing snow storms
Abstract. Many blowing snow conceptual and predictive models have been based on simplified two-phase flow dynamics derived from time-averaged observations of bulk flow conditions in blowing snow storms. Measurements from the first outdoor application of particle tracking velocimetry (PTV) of near-surface blowing snow yield new information on mechanisms for blowing snow initiation, entrainment, and rebound, whilst also confirming some findings from wind tunnel observations. Blowing snow particle movement is influenced by complex surface flow dynamics, including saltation development from creep that has not previously been measured for snow. Comparisons with 3-D atmospheric turbulence measurements show that blowing snow particle motion immediately above the snow surface responds strongly to high-frequency turbulent motions. Momentum exchange from wind to the dense near-surface particle-laden flow appears significant and makes an important contribution to blowing snow mass flux and saltation initiation dynamics. The more complete and accurate description of near-surface snow particle motions observable using PTV may prove useful for improving blowing snow model realism and accuracy.