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Title: One-dimensional water flow through snow
Authors: Colbeck, Samuel C.
Keywords: Glaciers
One dimensional flow
Snow permeability
Water flow
Fluid flow
Mathematical analysis
Mathematical models
Publisher: Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (U.S.)
Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Series/Report no.: Research report (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (U.S.)) ; 296.
Description: Research Report
Abstract: A theory is developed to describe the percolation of water through isothermal snow with a vertical porosity gradient. While the necessary laboratory experiments have not been done for snow, concepts from the general theory of two phase flow through porous media are used in the development. The general solution for the one-dimensional problem is given, which, when combined with any periodic boundary condition, can be used to make quantitative predictions. The theory is applied to water percolation through firn on the upper Seward Glacier (Sharp, 1951a). Using appropriate values for the parameters, theory shows a wave of volume flux which travels down into the firn and develops features similar to those observed by Sharp. These include an initially symmetric wave which distorts with depth, continuous (rather than intermittent) downward flow beneath the surface, and a decreasing value for the wave crest with depth. The rate at which the waves propagate is calculated using the method of characteristics and is in fair agreement with the observed rate where the permeability of the bulk firn with ice layers is reduced by a factor of two over homogeneous snow samples studied in the laboratory (Kuroiwa, 1963). The theory predicts that the waves advance with a shock front which grows with depth. The shock front is thought to be only an approximation to the actual physical process.
Rights: Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Appears in Collections:Research Report

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