Meltwater Lubrication

  • David A. Lind
  • Scott P. Sanders


The meltwater film that lubricates the running surface of a ski once it begins to move with appreciable speed must arise in part from the frictional heat generated at the interface of the running surface and the snowpack [1]. The work done against the friction forces, whatever the nature of the forces themselves, represents an energy dissipation that is expressed in the form of heating. In addition to the heat produced by friction, some solar radiation that scatters within the snowpack and is absorbed by the ski base also contributes to the heating. The cumulative heat energy input heats the snow in the track and the ski itself until the interface of the contact surface of the ski and the snow comes to an effective melting temperature for the snow. The heat of fusion required to generate the meltwater holds the temperature rise to the melting point, 0°C. Any additional available energy goes to increasing the generation of more liquid, not to raising the temperature above the melting point.


Solar Radiation Snow Surface Heat Balance Equation Cumulative Heat Heat Energy Input 
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  1. 1.
    This discussion is indebted to the work of S. C. Colbeck, “A Review of the Processes that Control Snow Friction,” CRREL Monograph 92–2 (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, NH, 1992).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Lind
    • 1
  • Scott P. Sanders
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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