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Vera Valero, Cesar and others, 2015

Release temperature, snow-cover entrainment and the thermal flow regime of snow avalanches

Bibliographic Reference

Vera Valero, Cesar, Wikstroem Jones, Katreen, Bühler, Yves, and Bartelt, Perry, 2015, Release temperature, snow-cover entrainment and the thermal flow regime of snow avalanches: Journal of Glaciology, 61 (225), 173-184.


To demonstrate how snow-cover release and entrainment temperature influence avalanche runout we develop an avalanche dynamics model that accounts for the thermal heat energy of flowing snow. Temperature defines the mechanical properties of snow and therefore the avalanche flow regime. We show that the avalanche flow regime depends primarily on the temperature of the snow mass in the starting zone, as well as the density and temperature of the entrained snow cover, which define the influx of heat energy. Avalanche temperature, however, not only depends on the initial and boundary conditions, but also on the path-dependent frictional processes that increase internal heat energy. We account for two processes: (1) frictional shearing in the slope-parallel flow direction and (2) dissipation of random fluctuation energy by inelastic granular interactions. In avalanche flow, nonlinear irreversible processes are coupled with variable initial and boundary conditions that lead to transitions in flow regime. Snow avalanches thus exhibit a wide variety of flow behaviour with variation in snow-cover temperature.

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