Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientist Measures Role Of Science's Coolest Player: The Snow

Date:
December 7, 2005
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
What would the Earth be like if one fine day all the snow melted away? Obviously, it would be a much warmer place. But what's interesting is how much warmer, says Stephen Vavrus, an associate scientist at the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Working with computer-generated simulations, Vavrus found that in the absence of snow cover, global temperatures would likely spike by about eight-tenths of a degree Celsius.

If all the planet's snow were to melt away, Earth would on average be around eight-tenths of a degree Celsius warmer, according to Stephen Vavrus, an associate scientist at the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Vavrus generated computer simulations of a snow-free world to assess snow's impact on several climatic variables such as temperature and atmospheric circulation. This map illustrates the effects across the globe. (Map by: Stephen Vavrus/Center for Climatic Research)

What would the Earth be like if one fine day all the snow melted away?

Obviously, it would be a much warmer place. But what's interesting is how much warmer, says Stephen Vavrus, an associate scientist at the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Working with computer-generated simulations, Vavrus found that in the absence of snow cover, global temperatures would likely spike by about eight-tenths of a degree Celsius. That increase represents as much as a third of the warming that climate change experts have predicted, should levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases double.

"This was not just a what-if question," says Vavrus, whose work comes amidst mounting reports on the steady melt of Arctic ice. "I wanted to quantify the influence of global snow cover on the present-day climate because that has relevance for the type of climate changes we are expecting in the future." Vavrus will discuss his findings today during the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (Dec. 5-9, 2005).

Vavrus, a climate modeling specialist, digitally simulated a snow-free world, and measured the impact of missing snow cover on a range of climatic variables including soil temperatures, cloud cover, atmospheric circulation patterns and soil moisture levels.

Aside from his temperature-related projections, Vavrus also made the counterintuitive finding that in the absence of snow, total regions of permafrost-the permanently frozen soil of the cold north-are likely to expand in area. Without the insulating effect of snow, in other words, soils in colder regions of the world are in fact likely to get much colder. The surprising result has implications for the health of permafrost-associated ecosystems, and may influence decisions in the field of construction.

Already, permafrost changes have triggered structural problems in Alaskan buildings and roadways, says Vavrus, and "there's every reason to think we'll see even stronger effects in the future," he adds.

In forthcoming simulations, Vavrus plans to continue exploring the effects of both nearby and faraway snow cover on local climate conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Scientist Measures Role Of Science's Coolest Player: The Snow." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051207110313.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2005, December 7). Scientist Measures Role Of Science's Coolest Player: The Snow. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051207110313.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Scientist Measures Role Of Science's Coolest Player: The Snow." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051207110313.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) Rescuers were forced to suspend plans to recover at least two dozen bodies from near the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan on Tuesday after increased seismic activity raised concern about the possibility of another eruption. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins