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PUBLICATION NOTICE: SnowMicroPenetrometer Applications for Winter Vehicle Mobility

US Army Engineer Research and Development Center
Published Aug. 9, 2019

The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center has published the report/note described and linked below. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

Report Number:



SnowMicroPenetrometer Applications for Winter Vehicle Mobility


Tate G. Meehan, Hans-Peter Marshall, Elias J. Deeb, and Sally A. Shoop


The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory provides technical support to military forces, one area being vehicle mobility modeling over snow. Many factors control vehicle performance, including the vehicle specifications and the land surface conditions. However, estimating snow macromechanical properties—such as elastic modulus, stiffness, and strength—is critical for understanding how effectively a vehicle will travel over snow-covered terrain. Vehicle instrumentation data and observations of the snow pack are necessary to improve the estimates of winter vehicle performance. Currently, snow depth and bulk snow density alone drive the available mobility performance index. This research deployed a SnowMicroPenetrometer (SMP) to measure hard, vehicle-compacted snow and groomed snow roads. Microstructural and micromechanical properties derived from the SMP data analysis were correlated to the Rammsonde penetrometer hardness, an established snow instrument, and to the shear-strength test vane and Light Weight Deflectometer, which are common in soil and aggregate layer assurance methods in road construction. Correlating these tools requires a new theory for inverting SMP signals for micromechanical properties that relaxes the assumption of low-density snow. Additionally, a scaling law appropriate to this type of hard snow is required to relate the SMP observations of the microscale and the macroscale properties.

42 pgs / 1.59 MB


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