21 Jun 2024
 | 21 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

A local thermal non-equilibrium model for Rain-on-Snow events

Thomas Heinze

Abstract. Liquid water movement through a snowpack, e.g. during rain-on-snow events or meltwater infiltration, is an essential process to understand runoff generation, flash floods, and snow avalanches. From a physical point of view, water infiltration into snow is a strongly coupled thermo-hydraulic problem with a thermal non-equilibrium between phases because the infiltrating water can be substantially warmer than the snowpack. Contrary to water infiltration into a frozen soil, the solid volume fraction is highly dynamic due to melting of snow and (re-)freezing of water. This work presents the first true multi-phase local thermal non-equilibrium model with variable volume fractions of all involved phases including the snowpack as solid porous matrix. While the possible value range of hydraulic, geometrical, and thermal parameters within a snowpack can be highly variable, the developed model is subsequently used to systematically study the effects of environmental conditions and parameters on the spatial distribution of melting and freezing within the snowpack. The model can be used to identify the formation of new ice layers due to refreezing as well as layers of enhanced melting.

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Thomas Heinze

Status: open (until 16 Aug 2024)

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Thomas Heinze

Model code and software

Matlab code for the numerical model Thomas Heinze

Thomas Heinze


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Short summary
When water infiltrates into a snowpack, it alters the thermal state of the system. This work presents a first of its kind multi-phase heat transfer model for local thermal non-equilibrium scenarios of water infiltration into an existing snowpack, such as during Rain-on-Snow events. The model can be used to calculate the formation of ice layers as well as partial melting of the snow. Hence, it can support hazard assessment for flash floods and snow avalanches.