Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-260
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-260

  25 Aug 2021

25 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The statistics of blowing snow occurrences from multi-year autonomous snow flux measurements in the French Alps

Zhipeng Xie1, Yaoming Ma1,4, Weiqiang Ma1,4, Zeyong Hu2, and Genhou Sun3 Zhipeng Xie et al.
  • 1Land-Atmosphere Interaction and its Climatic Effects Group, State Key Laboratory of Tibetan Plateau Earth System, Resources and Environment (TPESRE), Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Land Surface Process and Climate Change in Cold and Arid Regions, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 3School of Atmospheric Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, 135 Xingang Xi Road, Guangzhou, 510275, China
  • 4University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China

Abstract. Wind-driven snow transport has important implications for the spatial-temporal heterogeneity of snow distribution and snowpack evolution in mountainous areas, such as the European Alps. The climatological and hydrological significance of this region have been extensively investigated using satellite and numerical models. However, knowledge of the spatiotemporal variability of blowing snow is in its infancy because of inaccuracies in satellite-based blowing snow algorithms and the absence of quantitative assessments. Here, we present the spatiotemporal variability and magnitude of blowing snow events, and explore the potential links with ambient meteorological conditions using near surface blowing snow observations from the ISAW outdoor environmental monitoring network. Results show frequent occurrence of blowing snow, and contrasting seasonal variability in the French Alps. On average, monthly blowing snow days range from 5.0 to 14.3 days when using the snow flux threshold of 0.1 g m−2 s−1. The minimum and maximum frequencies of blowing snow days are observed in September and January, respectively, accounting for between 16.7 % and 46.1 % of the month. However, the frequency of monthly blowing snow days varies widely between stations, and this variability is more pronounced at lower threshold levels. Blowing snow events with relatively high magnitudes of snow mass flux (1.0 g m−2 s−1) occur more frequently than low-intensity events (snow mass flux ranges from 0.1 to 0.5 g m−2 s−1). By imposing a minimum duration of 4 h, the monthly cumulative hours with blowing snow occurrences can be up to 255 hours, but show significant seasonal and spatial variability. The considerable variability observed across this region can be explained by contrasting local climate (particularly wind speed and air temperature), snowpack properties, topography and vegetation. The snow-mass transported during relatively high magnitude blowing snow events accounts for about 90 % of all the transported snow mass, highlighting the importance of major events. Blowing snow events that occur with concurrent snowfall are generally associated with intense snow transport. Transport of wet snow and dry snow is mostly concentrated in the range of 0.1 to 0.5 g m−2 s−1 and 0.5 to 1.0 g m−2 s−1, respectively. Understanding the spatiotemporal variability of blowing snow occurrences and the potential links with ambient meteorological conditions is critical for constructing effective avalanche disaster warning systems, and for promoting quantitative evaluation and development of satellite retrieval algorithms and blowing snow models.

Zhipeng Xie et al.

Status: open (until 25 Oct 2021)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-260', Anonymous Referee #1, 06 Sep 2021 reply

Zhipeng Xie et al.

Zhipeng Xie et al.

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Short summary
Wind-driven snow transport greatly influences spatial-temporal distribution of snow in mountainous areas. Knowledge of the spatiotemporal variability of blowing snow is in its infancy because of inaccuracies in satellite-based blowing snow algorithms and the absence of quantitative assessments. Here, we present the spatiotemporal variability and magnitude of blowing snow events, and explore the potential links with ambient meteorological conditions using near surface blowing snow observations.