Characteristics of temperature variation in seasonal snow in the Western Tianshan Mountains, China

Authors

  • Xia Chen,

    1. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, XinJiang, China
    2. Hebei Key Laboratory for Meteorology and Eco-environment, Shijiazhuang Hebei, China
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  • Wenshou Wei,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Desert Meteorology, CMA, Urumqi, XinJiang, China
    • W. Wei, Institute of Desert Meteorology, CMA, Urumqi, Xinjiang 830002, China. E-mail: weiwsh@idm.cn

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  • Mingzhe Liu

    1. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, XinJiang, China
    2. Tianshan Station for Snow-cover and Avalanche Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, China
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ABSTRACT

The temperature of snow at 10 discrete vertical levels in the snow pack was measured using automatic temperature recorders at 10 min intervals following 5 snowfalls between January and March 2009 at the Tianshan Station for Snow Cover and Avalanche Research. The amplitude of the diurnal fluctuation in the temperature during the measurement run of 10 March 2009, when the snow was melting, was 1.85 times greater than during the measurement run of 15 February, when snow was accumulating. Analysis of the vertical temperature gradient for all five measurement runs shows that the temperature gradient of the snow was at a maximum value at the snow surface. The maximum snow temperature gradient was measured during the run of 21 January and was 4.46 times greater than during the run of 15 February. The temperature gradient was approximately zero 30 cm below the snow surface. Analysis of the characteristics of the snow temperature and the daily mean volumetric moisture content of the snow leads to the conclusion that the snow cover in the western Tianshan Mountains can be divided into stable, interim, and melting stages. A critical snow volumetric moisture content of 0.1% separates the stable and interim stages, while a volumetric moisture content of 0.3% separates the interim and melting stages.

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