Articles | Volume 14, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 14, 115–130, 2020
The Cryosphere, 14, 115–130, 2020

Research article 17 Jan 2020

Research article | 17 Jan 2020

Modeling snow slab avalanches caused by weak-layer failure – Part 1: Slabs on compliant and collapsible weak layers

Philipp L. Rosendahl and Philipp Weißgraeber

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Cited articles

2phi: Weak layer anticrack nucleation model, available at:, last access: 6 January 2020. a, b
Anderson, T. L.: Fracture Mechanics, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 4th edn.,, 2017. a
Bellaire, S. and Schweizer, J.: Measuring spatial variations of weak layer and slab properties with regard to snow slope stability, Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 65, 234–241,, 2011. a
Birkeland, K. W., van Herwijnen, A., Reuter, B., and Bergfeld, B.: Temporal changes in the mechanical properties of snow related to crack propagation after loading, Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 159, 142–152,, 2019. a
Broberg, K. B.: Cracks and fracture, Elsevier, 1999. a
Short summary
Dry-snow slab avalanche release is preceded by a fracture process within the snowpack. Recognizing weak layer collapse as an integral part of the fracture process is crucial and explains phenomena such as whumpf sounds and remote triggering of avalanches from low-angle terrain. In this first part of the two-part work we propose a novel closed-form analytical model for a snowpack that provides a highly efficient and precise analysis of the mechanical response of a loaded snowpack.