2500, boul. de l'Université
Université de Sherbrooke
819.821.8000 extension 62506
Climate change and variability are causing an increase in extreme winter events occurrence, in particular rain on snow (ROS)events. This type of event, linked to abnormally warm temperatures in a normally cold weather environment, has a significant impact on the dynamic of snow cover. More precisely, the effect of these events on the distribution and dynamic of the avalanche risk in mountainous regions is poorly understood. This leads to evaluation problems by the forecasters, leading to public safety issues. An increased occurrence of these events in avalanche terrain will lead to an increase of wet avalanche problems as seen in different regions in Canada. This new threat must be considered by the different public safety authorities in a global warming context. The snow thermodynamic model SNOWPACK was developed in Switzerland to evaluate the geophysical properties of the snowpack for avalanche risk assessments. However, few research as been carried out for the avalanche risk linked to ROS, even less in a Canadian context. Detecting these events and understanding the behavior of the mountain snow covert to ROS is of the upmost importance for an appropriate avalanche risk evaluation in a warming context.
The main objective of the project is to improve the percolation scheme of SNOWPACK from an operational Canadian context. More specifically, we intend to: 1) use the high resolution instruments available with our research team to identify high density crusts and the presence of wet snow link to the ROS events; 2) validate the potential of SNOWPACK to simulate the properties affecting the snowpack stability caused by ROS (percolation scheme); 3) Evaluate the impact of ROS events on the snow stability with field measurements and SNOWPACK simulation with local weather stations; 4) Characterize the operational potential of the SNOWPACK model for avalanche risk assessment and stability with an implementation of detection and processing of the ROS events.
Our activities are focused on three different sites: the Réserver Faunique des Chic-Chocs, QC; Glacier National Park, BC and Weissfluhjoch, Davos, Switzerland. Field measurements of snow microstructure are planned at each of these sites during the three years of this project. The data will be collected from to main methods: ‘summary’ and ‘detailed’. The ‘summary’ mode will allow a rapid characterization of snow variability under ROS events while the ‘detailed’ mode will provide numerous stability test and detailed measurements of microstructure to evaluate the impact of ROS on the metamorphic processes used to predict snow stability. Each site contains one or more weather station available to run the model SNOWPACK. The geophysical properties will be simulated by the model and validated with field measurements collected during annual campaigns.
Domine, F., Picard, G., Morin, S., Barrère, M., Madore, J.-B., Langlois, A., 2019. Major issues in simulating some arctic snowpack properties using current detailed snow physics models: consequences for the thermal regime and water budget of permafrost. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems, 11(1): 34-33. DOI: 10.1029/2018MS001445.
Madore, J.-B., Langlois, A., Côté, K., 2018. Evaluation of the SNOWPACK model’s metamorphism and microstructure in Canada: a case study. Physical Geography, 39(5): 406-427. DOI: 10.1080/02723646.2018.1472984.
Côté, K., Madore, J.-B., Langlois, A., 2017. Uncertainties in the SNOWPACK multilayer snow model for a Canadian avalanche context: Sensitivity to climatic forcing data. Physical Geography, 38(2): 124-142. DOI: 10.1080/02723646.2016.1277935.