Dec. 17, 2003
Effect of Snow Fences on Snowdrifts
Get the Drift! The Effect of Snow Fence Variables on Wind Pattern and Speed and Snow Drift Geometry and Volume
Erica David, 13, Pinedale, Wyo.
Discovery Health Channel "Science Camp" Award, Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, 2003.
Project background: In response to drought conditions in Wyoming and other western states, Erica is seeking ways to exploit the moisture produced by snowdrifts. Because snowdrifts melt more slowly than lesser snow accumulations, more moisture seeps into the water table. However, natural snowdrifts usually occur in undesirable locations such as roadways and livestock areas. Erica is experimenting with fencing to try to direct snow into drifts located in favorable places.
Model snow fences.
Tactics and results: Last year, Erica determined that Cascade dishwater detergent most closely replicated drifting snow in small models. This year, she used Cascade to test six model snow fences of varying porosities and thicknesses. Using a wind tunnel, she measured wind direction and speed and resultant drifts.
Her conclusions illustrate three points of her hypothesis: Decreasing fence porosity and increasing board thickness cause a change in wind pattern, a decrease in speed, and the deepest points of the drift to occur further upwind. She also determined that as board thickness increased, drift volume increased.
Erica has already begun next years project by building full-size fences to further test her theories during the coming winter.
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