The Science of Oversummer Snow Storage
Storing snow over summer requires managing energy gains and losses to the snow pile. Although there is extensive literature related to natural snowmelt, particularly in regards to the hydrology of mountainous areas, there is very limited scientific literature related to the melting of snow stored over summer for skiing the following fall. There are however numerous studies of snow storage for over summer cooling that discuss methods of insulation and predict melt rates.
Energy is transferred from the environment to the stored snow in various ways. Heat is conducted from the ground below to the base of the pile, melting snow there. Although the ground surface was likely frozen when the snow was emplaced, our soil temperature probes show ground temperatures well above freezing just a few tens of centimeters below the surface. Heat is advected into the snow by summer rain percolating through the cover of woodchips or sawdust. Incoming shortwave solar radiation warms the top of the insulating layer during the day and that energy moves through the insulating layer, melting the pile from the top down.
The usual culprit in snowmelt, warm moist winds of spring, which release large amounts of latent heat when the moisture in them condenses on a bare snow pack, have less influence on summer piles because on the thick coating of wood chips or sawdust most storage operations use. Lastly, on clear nights, the warm pile surface radiates long wave energy back to space, cooling the pile surface and eventually, the insulating material covering the snow. If the air is dry, evaporative cooling from the moist wood chips may also remove energy from the stored snow pile.
Publications resulting from this projectWeiss, H. S., Bierman, P. R., Hamshaw, S. D. and Dubief, Y. (in press, 11/2019) Optimization of over-summer snow storage at mid-latitude and low elevation. Cryosphere. (download pdf)
Weiss, H. S., Bierman, P. R., Hamshaw, S. D. and Dubief, Y. (2018) Optimizing over-summer snow storage at low latitudes and low altitudes. International Union of Geology and Geophysics, Montreal, Canada.
Weiss, H. S., Bierman, P. R., Hamshaw, S. D. and Dubief, Y. (2018) Optimizing over-summer snow storage at low latitudes and low altitudes. EOS, AGU Fall Meeting, Washington, D.C. Abstract H31G-1967. (download pdf)
Weiss, H., Bierman, P. R., Dubief, Y. and Hamshaw, S. D. (2018) Feasibility of over-summer snow storage at the Craftsbury Outdoors Center in Craftsbury, VT. GSA Abstracts with Programs, NE section meeting, Burlington, VT. v. 50(2), Abstract 1-10. doi:10.1130/abs/2018NE-311045
Pertinent peer-reviewed literature by others
Grünewald, T., Wolfsperger, F., and Lehning, M.: Snow farming: conserving snow over the summer season, The Cryosphere, 12, 385-400, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-385-2018
Hamada, Y., Kubota, H., Nakamura, M., Kudo, K., and Hashimoto, Y.: Experiments and evaluation of a mobile high-density snow storage system, Energ. Buildings, 42, 178-182, http://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2009.08.012-2010
Lintzén, N., and Knutsson, S.: Snow storage–Modelling, theory and some new research, Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 153, 45-54, http://doi.org/10.1016/j.coldregions.2018.04.015-2018
Nordell, B., and Skogsberg, K.: Seasonal snow storage for cooling of hospital at Sundsvall, 8th International Conference on Thermal Energy Storage, University of Stuttgart, Germany, 2000.
Pestereva, N. M.: Modern engineering technology to adapt to the adverse weather and climatic conditions at mountain ski resorts, Life Sci. J., 11 (9), 800-804, http://doi.org/10.7537/marslsj110914.12-2014
Skogsberg, K.: Seasonal snow storage for space and process cooling, Ph.D, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Luleå tekniska universitet, 2005.
Skogsberg, K., and Lundberg, A.: Wood chips as thermal insulation of snow, Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 43, 207-218, http://doi.org/10.1016/j.coldregions.2005.06.001-2005