PMID: 12636262Mar 15, 2003

Rate of evolution of the specific surface area of surface snow layers

Environmental Science & Technology
Axel CabanesFlorent Dominé


The snowpack can impact atmospheric chemistry by exchanging adsorbed or dissolved gases with the atmosphere. Modeling this impact requires the knowledge of the specific surface area (SSA) of snow and its variations with time. We have therefore measured the evolution of the SSA of eight recent surface snow layers in the Arctic and the French Alps, using CH4 adsorption at liquid nitrogen temperature (77 K). The SSA of fresh snow layers was found to decrease with time, from initial values in the range 613-1540 cm2/g to values as low as 257 cm2/g after 6 days. This is explained by snow metamorphism, which causes modifications in crystal shapes, here essentially crystal rounding and the disappearance of microstructures. A parametrization of the rate of SSA decrease is proposed. We fit the SSA decrease to an exponential law and find that the time constant alpha(exp) (day(-1)) depends on temperature according to alpha(exp) = 76.6 exp (-1708/7), with Tin kelvin. Our parametrization predicts that the SSA of a snow layer evolving at -40 degrees C will decrease by a factor of 2 after 14 days, while a similar decrease at -1 degrees C will only require 5 days. Wind was found to increase the rate of SSA decrease, but insufficient data did no...Continue Reading


Aug 26, 2003·Microscopy Research and Technique·Florent DominéTill Heinrichs
Jul 26, 2005·Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety·B M J HerbertC J Halsall

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