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Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 73-92; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030073

Hydrological Implications of Covering Wind-Blown Snow Accumulations with Geotextiles on Mount Aragats, Armenia

1
Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, CH-1700 Fribourg, Switzerland
2
Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland
3
Institute of Mathematics of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia, 0019 Yerevan, Armenia
4
Engineering College, Engineering Research Center, American University of Armenia, 0019 Yerevan, Armenia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 April 2014 / Revised: 16 June 2014 / Accepted: 25 June 2014 / Published: 2 July 2014
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Abstract

Snow is an excellent water reservoir, naturally storing large quantities of water at time scales from a few days to several months. In summer-dry countries, like Armenia, runoff due to snow melt from mountain regions is highly important for a sustained water supply (irrigation, hydropower). Snow fields on Mount Aragats, Armenia’s highest peak, often persist until July, providing vital amounts of melt water. Artificially managing these wind-driven snow accumulations as a natural water reservoir might have considerable potential. In the context of the Swiss-Armenian joint venture, Freezwater, snow fields are covered with geotextiles in order to delay snow melt long enough to provide additional melt water in the dry season of the year. In this study, we analyze the hydrological effectiveness of the artificial management of the natural snow cover on Mount Aragats based on various field measurements acquired over a three-year period and numerical modeling. Over the winter season, partly more than five meter-thick snow deposits are formed supported by snow redistribution by strong wind. Repeated mappings of snow fields indicate that snow cover patterns remain highly consistent over time. Measurements of ablation below manually applied geotextiles show a considerable reduction of melt rates by more than 50%. Simulations with an energy-balance model and a distributed temperature-index model allow assessing the hydrological effect of artificial snow management for different initial snow depths and elevations and suggest that coverage is needed at a large scale in order to generate a significant impact on discharge. View Full-Text
Keywords: snow; hydrology; geotextile; Armenia; Aragats snow; hydrology; geotextile; Armenia; Aragats
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nestler, A.; Huss, M.; Ambartzumian, R.; Hambarian, A. Hydrological Implications of Covering Wind-Blown Snow Accumulations with Geotextiles on Mount Aragats, Armenia. Geosciences 2014, 4, 73-92.

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