Tom's Blog

Monday, March 4, 2013

Snow melt patterns

I posted something on snow-melt patterns in 2009 and 2010, but not with so broad a scope. Yesterday I took some photos of the south-facing slope from across the wetland in County F, and with the clear air the photos came out quite sharp. (At least before they were reduced in resolution for the web.)

The angle at which the sun strikes the slope has a great influence on temperature and hence on how quickly the snow melts.

The lower snow-free area in the photo is the road cut just above Pleasant Valley Road. It is very steep and has its face directly into the sun. (I estimated its slope as about 78 degrees.) The area above the road cut is not so steep and hence the  angle of the sun is less, so there less snow melt. Above that the topography gets steep again and most of the snow is gone. In this area there are also some effects due to the individual bur oaks. Finally, at the top, where the ground is almost level, the snow still remains quite deep.

Of course, all year long the sun is affecting these different areas differently, which certainly leads to ecological consequences. Soil moisture should be higher where the slope is less steep.

It seems hard to believe that in a few weeks we will be burning!


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