An investigation of the thermal properties of traditional snow shelters

TitleAn investigation of the thermal properties of traditional snow shelters
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1997
AuthorsMueller, D.
Conference Name65th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 65th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedMay 1997
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationBanff, Alberta
KeywordsIgloo, Quinzee, Snow cave, Snow shelters, Thermal conductivity

Traditional snow shelters have been constructed and used byindigenous groups for centuries. Modern sciencehas done little to quantify and compare the thermal properties of these structures. In February 1995, three snow shelters (an igloo, snow cave and quinzee) were built near the Montmorency Forest Research Station in the Laurentides, Quebec. Eight copper-constantan thermocouples were placed at intervals throughout the wall, outside and inside each snow shelter (on the floor, in the cold air trap and near the roof). During the night, temperatures were recorded using a Campbell Scientific 21X datalogger in the occupied structure. Thermal conductivities of the snow walls were calculated for each shelter. The wall of the igloo had the lowest thermal conductivity (k = 0.27 W/m/K), followed by the snow cave wall (k = 0.36 W/m/K. The quinzee wall had the highest thermal conductivity (k = 0.56 W/m/K. The results indicate that the igloo wall was the best insulator out of the three snow shelter types.