March 29, 2014

Pattern of warmer ground with less snow.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last Saturday was the Spring we have been waiting for:  the sky was blue, the sun was out, and the air temperature was in the 60s.  Not much more to be asked for there.  It did not, however, last.  Sunday the sky clouded over and the temperature dropped into the 50s and kept sliding.  By Monday, we had yet another snowfall-this time about three inches or so.

Those warmer days, though, allowed the ground (and asphalt) to store enough heat so that the snow really did not last that long.  In fact, the arc of the sun across the early Spring sky became readily apparent as the snow was unable to gain a foothold on those areas that had received more solar exposure.  The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has a wealth of information regarding the interaction between weather, climate, and frozen material.  This link explains the fundamentally important difference between weather (that which occurs over a short time) and climate (that which occurs over a much longer time).  Because the ground and pavement are dark, they absorb more heat-areas that are lighter, reflect more heat and therefore stay cooler.  The individual weather event that was last Monday would appear to serve as a microcosm of the larger climate event currently taking place.

As the NSIDC points out, the climate is changing-the earth is getting warmer.  This, in turn, is melting the snow and ice of the glaciers and polar regions of the planet.  As more land in uncovered and the surface areas of seas increases, less heat is reflected by the diminishing whiter snow and ice and more heat is absorbed by darker ground and water.  It would be useful to read the rest of the information contained in the NSIDC link for more information about this important, and far-reaching, dynamic.

Take care.