The combined effect of microstructure and fabric on the densification of polar and alpine snow

Maurine Montagnat-Rentier, Senior Scientist

Institut of Geosciences of Environment (IGE)
Grenoble, France

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Fellowship Period:  08.2016 - 08.2017

Research interests and main activities

  • Study of deformation and recrystallization processes in snow and ice (from laboratory experiments and natural environments, e.g. ice sheets).
  • Texture and microstructure characterization in snow and ice.
  • Modeling of deformation of ice with full-field mechanical approaches.
  • Study of ice friction in laboratory fault configuration.

Leader of a French research network on Recrystallization in Materials (2014-2021).

Leader of a Swiss-French research exchange program on Snow Microstructures (2015-2018).

Activities within WSL Fellowship

This collaborative work focuses on fundamental questionings surrounding the physics and mechanical properties of snow and firn. In particular, it aims at exploring the central role of the microstructure and the fabric of the snow-pack and its evolution with depth and time both in perennial polar and in seasonal alpine conditions. The microstructure of porous ice is defined here as the geometry of the ice-air interface, the fabric is defined as the crystal orientation of the snow crystals. While most past efforts focused on the geometrical properties of snow, this collaborative work stands on the innovative objective to take into account both geometric and crystallographic aspects of microstructure as key elements to improve densification laws of snow and firn. Practically, this was done by associating 3D tomography imaging available at SLF with crystallographic orientation measurements performed by M. Montagnat. Natural snowpack from the EastGRIP Greenland site was studied together with samples mechanically tested in the laboratory.

Cooperation within WSL

Interne Kontakte (Datensätze)

Cooperation outside of WSL

This fellowship-program was involved in the CNRS PICS research exchange program between WSL-SLF and  IGE and Centre d’Etude de la Neige (CEN - MéteoFrance) in Grenoble. Cooperation therefore included Pascal Hagenmuller and Marie Dumont from CEN.