30 Jun 2023
 | 30 Jun 2023

Investigating wind-driven Snow Redistribution Processes over an Alpine Glacier with high-resolution Terrestrial Laser Scans and Large-eddy Simulations

Annelies Voordendag, Brigitta Goger, Rainer Prinz, Tobias Sauter, Thomas Mölg, Manuel Saigger, and Georg Kaser

Abstract. Wind-driven snow redistribution affects the glacier mass balance by eroding or depositing mass from or to different parts of the glacier’s surface. High-resolution observations are used to test the ability of large eddy simulations as a tool for distributed mass balance modeling. We present a case study of observed and simulated snow redistribution over Hintereisferner glacier (Ötztal Alps, Austria) between 6 and 9 February 2021. Observations consist of three high-resolution Digital Elevation Models (∆x=1 m) derived from terrestrial laser scans taken shortly before, directly after, and 15 hours after snowfall. The scans are complemented by data sets from three onsite weather stations. After the snow fall event the snowpack decreased by 0.08 m on average over the glacier and typical snow redistribution patterns were observed. The decrease of the snow depth is to be attributed to both post-snowfall compaction and redistribution of snow. Simulations were performed with the WRF model at ∆x=48 m with a newly implemented snow drift module. The spatial patterns of the simulated snow redistribution agree well with the observed generalized patterns. Snow redistribution contributed -0.026 m to the surface elevation decrease over the glacier surface on 8 Feb, resulting in a mass loss of -3.9 kg m−2, which is in the same order of magnitude as the observations. With the single case study we cannot yet extrapolate to the impact of post-snowfall events on the seasonal glacier mass balance, but the study shows that the snow drift module in WRF is a powerful tool to improve knowledge on snow redistribution over glaciers and that the model setup can be applied to other mountain glaciers.

Annelies Voordendag et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1395', Anonymous Referee #1, 07 Aug 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-1395', Matthieu Lafaysse, 09 Aug 2023

Annelies Voordendag et al.

Annelies Voordendag et al.


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Short summary
Wind-driven snow redistribution affects glacier mass balance. A case study of Hintereisferner glacier in Austria used high-resolution observations and simulations to model snow redistribution. Simulations matched observations, showing the potential of the model for studying snow redistribution on other mountain glaciers.