Equivalent permeability of a continental, alpine snowpack

TitleEquivalent permeability of a continental, alpine snowpack
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1999
AuthorsFox, A. M., and Williams M. W.
Conference Name67th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 67th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1999
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationSouth Lake Tahoe, California
KeywordsLysimeters, Meltwater flow, Snowpack permeability

Most snowpacks are not homogeneous, but consist of a number of snow and ice layers with varying permeabilities. In such cases, an 'equivalent' permeability can be used as an integrated or bulk property of the entire snowpack depth and is a useful parameter for gravity-flow and numerical models of meltwater flow through isothermal snowpacks. Calculated surface meltwater flux and Iysimeter discharge were used to establish daily relationships between specific meltwater fluxes and wavespeeds through the snowpack at a continental, alpine site in 1996 and 1997. These relationships were used to determine a pore-size distribution index (E) and to calculate equivalent permeability. Values for E were found to vary considerably and could not be related to other measured snowpack properties. Values were in the lower range of those previously reported, often less than 3, and were highly dependent on the range of meltwater fluxes used in calculations. Equivalent permeability was also at the lower limit of values reported in the literature, and varied by 2 orders of magnitude from 1.08 x 10 to the 11th to 2.79 x 10 to the 8th m2. In 1997 it declined considerably over 16 days.