The Byrd Snow Drift Project: Outline and Basic Results

  1. Morton J. Rubin
  1. W. F. Budd1,
  2. W. R. J. Dingle2 and
  3. U. Radok3

Published Online: 14 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/AR009p0071

Studies in Antarctic Meteorology

Studies in Antarctic Meteorology

How to Cite

Budd, W. F., Dingle, W. R. J. and Radok, U. (1966) The Byrd Snow Drift Project: Outline and Basic Results, in Studies in Antarctic Meteorology (ed M. J. Rubin), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/AR009p0071

Author Information

  1. 1

    Antarctic Division, Australian Department of External Affairs, Melbourne, Australia

  2. 2

    Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, Australia

  3. 3

    Project Leader, Department of Meteorology, University of Melbourne, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1966

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875901091

Online ISBN: 9781118664445



  • Byrd snow drift project;
  • Drift particle measurements;
  • Drift quantities;
  • Snow drift density and gaging;
  • Sundry measurements;
  • Wind measurements and profile


Equipment and techniques used in a study of drifting snow at Byrd station during 1962–1963 are described. Basic data obtained consist of 129 snow drift gagings with Mellor drift traps at eight levels between 400 and 3.125 cm above the snow surface, simultaneous wind measurements at five or six of these levels, 32 sets of upper-wind observations by means of accelerated radiotheodolite readings, and 7 sets by means of rocket trail photography. Auxiliary observations in the form of accumulation and visibility measurements in the test area and Formvar replicas of drift snow particles collected at various heights above the surface are also presented. The theory of steady-state drifting of uniform snow is reviewed and tested by means of the observations. The wind profiles in the lowest 4 meters closely approximate the logarithmic form, which frequently is also a reasonable approximation up to 300 meters, throughout the layer of snow drifting. The roughness height of the snow surface appears to be unaffected by macrofeatures like dunes and sastrugi, but it is larger for smooth soft than for smooth hard snow; it bears no relation to the amount of drift snow in the air. The vertical drift density profile is found to deviate significantly from that predicted by the theory; the cause of this deviation is traced back to the nonuniformity of drift particle size. The theoretically expected exponential relation between drift density and reciprocal wind velocity at a given level is found to hold to a reasonable degree of accuracy, making possible a single specification of drift density in terms of both height and wind speed. On the other hand, the observed total drift contents and drift transports change with wind speed in a manner very different from that predicted by the theory. The observed drift snow transports in the layer from 1 mm to 300 meters above the snow surface, Qmath image 300 (g m−1sec−1), can be represented by the relation $$/log {/rm Q}_{{/rm 10}ˆ{{/rm − 3}} } ˆ{300} /, = /;1.1812/; + /;0.0887V_{10}$$ where V10 is the wind velocity at the 10-meter level. This relation accounts for over 90% of the variance of the transports computed from five-run average winds and drift densities and has been used to compute monthly and annual net drift snow transports through a vertical east-west plane at Byrd. The annual transport is approximately 3×109 g m−1 and equals 5% of the net accumulation of a 1-meter strip extending 300 km northward from Byrd to the ridge between the Crary Mountains and the Executive Committee Range. It also equals the mass in a column of 1 m2 cross sectional area extending vertically through the ice cap at Byrd.