In this paper we suggest a new ice cave type: the “flow-through” ice cave. In a flow-through ice cave external winds blow into the cave and wet cave walls chill the incoming air to the wet-bulb temperature, thereby achieving extra cooling of the cave air. We have investigated an ice cave in Idaho, located in a lava tube that is reported to have airflow through porous wet end-walls and could therefore be a flow-through cave. We have instrumented the site and collected data for one year. In order to determine the actual ice cave type present at Shoshone, we have constructed numerical models for static and flow-through caves (dynamic is not relevant here). The models are driven with exterior measurements of air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed. The model output is interior air temperature and relative humidity. We then compare the output of both models to the measured interior air temperatures and relative humidity. While both the flow-through and static cave models are capable of preserving ice year-round (a net zero or positive ice mass balance), both models show very different cave air temperature and relative humidity output. We find the empirical data support a hybrid model of the static and flow-through models: permitting a static ice cave to have incoming air chilled to the wet-bulb temperature fits the data best for the Shoshone Ice Cave.
Williams, Kaj E. and Christopher McKay.
Comparing flow-through and static ice cave models for Shoshone Ice Cave.
International Journal of Speleology,
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/ijs/vol44/iss2/1