Morphogenesis of typical winter and summer snow surface patterns in a continental alpine environment

Authors

  • Ute C. Herzfeld,

    Corresponding author
    1. Geomathematik, Fachbereich Geographie/Geowissenschaften, Universität Trier, D-54286 Trier, Germany
    2. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
    • Instaar, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA.
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  • Helmut Mayer,

    1. Geomathematik, Fachbereich Geographie/Geowissenschaften, Universität Trier, D-54286 Trier, Germany
    2. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
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  • Nel Caine,

    1. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
    2. Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0260, USA
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  • Mark Losleben,

    1. Mountain Research Station, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
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  • Tim Erbrecht

    1. Geomathematik, Fachbereich Geographie/Geowissenschaften, Universität Trier, D-54286 Trier, Germany
    2. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0450, USA
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Abstract

Snow surface roughness is an important variable in the study of surface–atmosphere exchanges, including the investigation of snow melt at several scales, meltwater production and meltwater flux, wind transport and erosion in winter. In this paper the morphogenesis of the snow surface in winter and in summer is investigated both phenomenologically and quantitatively. For the first time, snow surface roughness and microtopography is measured spatially, using the Glacier Roughness Sensor (GRS), an instrument developed especially for this purpose. Data are analysed by application of geostatistical characterization and classification methods. Parameters that are useful as snow surface descriptors are defined and extracted from vario functions of first and second order, which are calculated for snow-surface-roughness data.

As a result of the geostatistical analysis, characteristics of morphogenetic processes of the winter and summer snow surface are derived. Characteristic parameters are given for suncups (summer) and sastrugi (winter) and their development stages, as well as quantitative discriminators between these forms, which may facilitate automation of snow surface classification. As an application, the interaction of environmentally induced processes and self-organizational processes is analysed. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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