Monday, December 5, 2016

Let it snow!

Winter is most definitely here. The snow is packing down, and the drifts are growing. Which is why we haven't been doing much traveling as of late. Probably won't go very far from home until March.

Which made me think, as I walked across the field to the office this morning. As I looked at the snow at my feet, and felt the snow scouring my face like sandpaper, I realized that I had never thought of snow as if it were sand.

But dry snow (a high snow to liquid ratio), for the purposes of considering it's impact on the landscape, is exactly that.


I thought I should include an explanation of "dry snow", as it seems a rather contradictory term. The different terms for snow, which include wet snow, granular snow, corn snow and dry snow are categorized based on the "snow to liquid equivalent".

The snow-to-liquid equivalent is a ratio indicating the amount of liquid precipitation produced as the snow melts. In order to calculate this, one uses both the Earth's surface temperature as well as the temperature of the troposphere. The troposphere is the bottom-most layer of Earth's atmosphere, which contains 75% of the atmosphere's mass, and most of its water vapor.

Dry snow occurs when both the troposphere temperature and the surface temperature fall below the freezing mark, causing the snow to have a minimal amount of liquid, and more air pockets within the lattice structure at the microscopic level.

Since dry snow is less dense than wet snow, and not as "sticky". Dry snow's lack of stickiness makes the snow unlikely to stick together, hence it's sand-like characteristics.It also makes terrible snowmen and snowballs.

Back to dry snow:

So, essentially, the snow my backyard is acting like a dune field. Though I do see sediment buildup on some of the older so, which indicates a windbreak. So if you want to know where the wind is consistently the weakest, look for the dirty snow.

The snow piles look like the beginnings of traverse dunes, indicating a constant prevailing wind direction, and very little vegetation.

See the elongated piles front left to right?
You don't need to travel far to see wonders. You can find amazing things right at home. Start by looking down at your feet. Or out your front door, apparently.