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The influence of temperature on the small-strain viscous deformation mechanics of snow: a comparison with polycrystalline ice

  • Carlo Scapozza (a1) (a2) and Perry A. Bartelt (a2)
Abstract
Abstract

Glen’s law is commonly used to model the viscous deformation of polycrystalline ice. It is a power law that relates stress to viscous strain rate and contains three material parameters: n, a power-law exponent, Q, an activation energy, and A 0, a material constant. Because polycrystalline ice is the constituent material of snow, it is to be expected that the viscous deformation mechanics of snow are related to the viscous behaviour of polycrystalline ice, especially under small strains and low strain rates when kinematic effects in the ice matrix like bond breakage, bond formation and grain sliding are of secondary importance. Based on 64 deformation-controlled compression tests on fine-grained snow in the density range 200–430kg m–3 and temperature range T = –20 to –2°C, we show that Glen’s law—with material parameters similar to those for polycrystalline ice—can be applied to model the viscous deformation of high-density snow However, the values of the ice material parameters are valid for densities above a relatively low density of 400 kg m–3; they are not valid for snow with densities below 360 kg m–3. We present the variation of n, Q and A for snow as a function of density and temperature. A possible explanation for this behaviour is that the ice grains in low-density snow are less constrained. Therefore, deformation mechanisms, such as grain-boundary sliding, increase in overall importance, leading to smaller n values and higher activation energies, Q. Although the material behaviour of low-density snow can be accurately modelled using a power law, the power-law parameters depart substantially from those of polycrystalline ice. The large variation of n and Q with temperature and density underscores the difficulty of predicting snow avalanches.

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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
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