Snow Impacts Temperatures

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Snow is a great reflector of light. In fact, it reflects 80 to 90% of light coming from the sun. This helps keep us cooler in the winter. The ground typically absorbs the sun’s rays, which then helps warm the earth. The ground reflects only 17% of the sun’s rays which leads to warmer air. 

Also, any melting of snow, will then evaporate the water back into the air, also making the air cooler. At night, any heat the snow did absorb, the snow lets it go back into our atmosphere continuing to cool our air. This is called radiational cooling, much like how humans sweat to keep us cool. 

Due to the snow acting like a mirror, and reflecting light, on a sunny day in the winter, if you are participating in winter sports, it is easy to get a sunburn. 

The scientific term of objects reflecting light is known as albedo.

Here is a list of how different objects reflect light: 

Concrete: 20-30%

Soil: 17%

Trees: 15-18%

Water: 10%

Grass: 25%

Snow: 80-90%

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