A theoretical assessment of heat transfer by ventilation in homogeneous snowpacks



[1] The effects of heat transfer by ventilation in snow are investigated theoretically. We draw together standard analytical results for fluid flow in porous media and apply them to the case of steady flows induced by periodic roughness elements. These solutions are used to estimate the relative magnitude of ventilation heat transfer in snow. We conclude that topography-driven ventilation is unlikely to have a significant impact on the larger scale energy balance of snow-covered regions since the airflow is confined to a shallow penetration depth or just the roughness elements themselves, rather than the bulk snowpack. In particular, for the limiting case of very warm and moisture saturated air flowing over a melting snow cover, we show that latent and sensible heat due to ventilation have about equal contributions and that this contribution is small compared to the overall surface flux as predicted by the Monin-Obukhov theory.