Modelling of Antarctic snowdrifting was conducted in a turbulent boundary layer wind tunnel. A series of 7 models was designed, based on the extended dimensions of a shipping container. Tests were carried out to investigate the effects of varying the model corner geometry and the angle of wind incidence on snowdrift formation. The results were used to formulate design guidelines for buildings in Antarctica.
Antarctic buildings have suffered from a range of problems caused by snowdrift accumulation, including blocked doors, windows, fire escapes, accessways and ventilation ducts, buildings being pushed off their footings and even complete inundation. Hence it is important that snowdrifting studies form part of the design process of proposed buildings in Antarctica. To overcome some of the problems of on-site construction in the harsh Antarctic environment, a new modular elevated building system (the "Loaf System") has been proposed (Rohde, 1990). The component buildings are based on the extended dimensions of a shipping container and may be constructed and completely fitted out in their country of origin. The buildings may then be shipped to Antarctica and transported to the site by sled or helicopter. Any number of modules may be linked together by covered walkways to form a small semi-permanent station. The buildings are easily relocatable if the site is found to be unsuitable. This study explores the effects of corner geometry and angle of wind incidence on snowdrift formation around component buildings of this modular elevated building system.
Snow particle movement in Antarctica is initiated and dominated by a turbulent boundary layer wind. Due to the relatively small size of the buildings to be modeled, it was found to be necessary to use the model scale of 1150 in order to obtain reasonably sized model snowdrifts.