Relative importance of advective heat transport and boundary layer decoupling in the melt dynamics of a patchy snow cover
For a patchy snow cover the advective heat transport and the near-surface boundary layer decoupling, which have an opposite effect on sensible heat transport onto the snow surface, are both expected to increase in magnitude. The main aim of this study is to investigate the effects of locally developing atmospheric stratification over a discontinuous snow cover which can result in a decoupling from the warm atmosphere. We are particularly interested in the effect of boundary layer decoupling on the net sensible heat flux into the snow. We therefore applied local eddy flux measurements over snow patches at three different heights above the snow surface. We identified wind velocity, turbulence intensity, fetch distance and topographical curvature as the main factors driving the boundary layer depth and the efficiency of advective heat transport to contribute to snow ablation. The atmospheric decoupling is thus shown to be a key mechanism in snow patch survival. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.