The significance of vertical moisture diffusion on drifting snow sublimation near snow surface
Abstract. Sublimation of blowing snow is an important parameter not only for the study of polar ice sheets and glaciers, but also for maintaining the ecology of arid and semi-arid lands. However, sublimation of near-surface blowing snow has often been ignored in previous studies. To study sublimation of near-surface blowing snow, we established a sublimation of blowing snow model containing both a vertical moisture diffusion equation and a heat balance equation. The results showed that although sublimation of near-surface blowing snow was strongly reduced by a negative feedback effect, due to vertical moisture diffusion, the relative humidity near the surface does not reach 100 %. Therefore, the sublimation of near-surface blowing snow does not stop. In addition, the sublimation rate near the surface is 3–4 orders of magnitude higher than that at 10 m above the surface and the mass of snow sublimation near the surface accounts for more than half of the total snow sublimation when the friction wind velocity is less than about 0.55 m s−1. Therefore, the sublimation of near-surface blowing snow should not be neglected.