• The measurement of anisotropic thermal conductivity in snow with needle probes

      Holbrook, Joshua (2011-05)
      A new method for measuring thermal conductivity is being adapted from the method of measuring isotropic thermal conductivity in snow with needle probes as used by Sturm, Johnson and others, in order to enable the determination of anisotropic thermal conductivities. This method has particular relevance to measuring thermal conductivity of natural snowpacks where conductivity can be strongly anisotropic due to structures that develop from vapor transport-induced metamorphism, self-compaction and other mechanisms, and where there are known discrepancies between density-conductivity relations empirically derived from guarded hot plate and needle probe methods. Both analytically-based solutions and finite element numerical solutions to the anisotropic case are used to calculate the expected effective thermal conductivity as a function of anisotropic thermal conductivity and needle orientation. Additionally, preliminary measurements of both anisotropic salt/sugar layered samples and of snow were taken. Both suggest that detecting anisotropy in such materials is possible, though made difficult by variability between measurements and the requirement of multiple measurements at various angles. These studies suggest that anisotropy in snow may be able to explain in part the discrepancies between guarded hot plate and needle probe measurements in certain cases.