Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-205
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-205
22 Jul 2021
 | 22 Jul 2021
Status: this discussion paper is a preprint. It has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). The manuscript was not accepted for further review after discussion.

Snow dune growth increases polar heat fluxes

Kelly Kochanski, Gregory Tucker, and Robert Anderson

Abstract. Falling snow often accumulates in dunes. These bedforms are found on up to 14 % of the surface of Earth, and appear occasionally on other planets. They have been associated with increased heat fluxes and rapid sea ice melting (Petrich et al., 2012; Popović et al., 2018). Their formation, however, is poorly understood (Filhol and Sturm, 2015; Kochanski et al., 2019a; Sharma et al., 2019). Here, we use field observations to show that dune growth is controlled by snowfall rate and wind speed. We then use numerical experiments to generate simulated dune topographies under varied wind and snowfall conditions, and use those to quantify conductive and radiative heat fluxes through snow. Our results show that dune growth leads to decreased snow cover, more variable snow depth, and significant increases in surface energy fluxes. We provide quantitative results that will allow modelers to account for the impact of snow bedforms in snow, sea ice, and climate simulations. In addition, this work offers a starting point for process-based studies of one of the most widespread bedforms on Earth.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Kelly Kochanski, Gregory Tucker, and Robert Anderson

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-205', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-205', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Oct 2021

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-205', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-205', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Oct 2021
Kelly Kochanski, Gregory Tucker, and Robert Anderson

Data sets

Time-lapse observations of snow bedforms in the Colorado Front Range, 2016-2017 Kelly Kochanski https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1253725

Model code and software

Rescal-snow Kelly Kochanski https://github.com/kellykochanski/rescal-snow

Kelly Kochanski, Gregory Tucker, and Robert Anderson

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Latest update: 26 May 2024
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Short summary
Falling snow does not life flat. When blown by the wind, it forms elaborate structures, like dunes. Where these dunes form, they change the way heat flows through the snow. This can accelerate sea ice melt and climate change. Here, we use both field observations obtained during blizzards in Colorado and simulations performed with a state-of-the-art model, to quantify the impact of snow dunes on Arctic heat flows.