Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Research article
07 Mar 2013
Research article |  | 07 Mar 2013

Investigating the dynamics of bulk snow density in dry and wet conditions using a one-dimensional model

C. De Michele, F. Avanzi, A. Ghezzi, and C. Jommi

Abstract. The snowpack is a complicated multiphase mixture with mechanical, hydraulic, and thermal properties highly variable during the year in response to climatic forcings. Bulk density is a macroscopic property of the snowpack used, together with snow depth, to quantify the water stored. In seasonal snowpacks, the bulk density is characterized by a strongly non-linear behaviour due to the occurrence of both dry and wet conditions. In the literature, bulk snow density estimates are obtained principally with multiple regressions, and snowpack models have put the attention principally on the snow depth and snow water equivalent. Here a one-dimensional model for the temporal dynamics of the snowpack, with particular attention to the bulk snow density, has been proposed, accounting for both dry and wet conditions. The model represents the snowpack as a two-constituent mixture: a dry part including ice structure, and air; and a wet part constituted by liquid water. It describes the dynamics of three variables: the depth and density of the dry part and the depth of liquid water. The model has been calibrated and validated against hourly data registered at three SNOTEL stations, western US, with mean values of the Nash–Sutcliffe coefficient ≈0.73–0.97 in the validation period.