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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 6
The Cryosphere, 11, 3011–3021, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-3011-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 11, 3011–3021, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-3011-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Dec 2017

Research article | 20 Dec 2017

The significance of vertical moisture diffusion on drifting snow sublimation near snow surface

Ning Huang1,2 and Guanglei Shi1 Ning Huang and Guanglei Shi
  • 1Key Laboratory of Mechanics on Disaster and Environment in Western China, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
  • 2School of Mechanical Engineering, Lanzhou Jiaotong University, Lanzhou, 730000, China

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.

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Short summary
Snow is an important part of the cryosphere, and blowing snow sublimation is an important method to change the snow distribution. However, in the previous studies blowing snow sublimation near surface was ignored. Herein, we built a blowing snow sublimation model to study the sublimation in near-surface region. The results showed that the mass of snow sublimation near surface accounted for even more than half of the total. Therefore, blowing snow sublimation near surface cannot be neglected.
Snow is an important part of the cryosphere, and blowing snow sublimation is an important method...
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