Getting to Know Snow Beneath Its Layers

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It’s that time of year when driveways and roads become blanketed by snow. For sure, many are looking for Grand Prairie snow removal companies. This is something that lies more on the smaller scale of things. Most regular folk should be able to handle this without much hassle.

Once you go beyond the residential confines and to the outdoors, things become more complicated. Mountain areas have more snow due to environmental factors. At this point, the amount may be too much to handle for anyone. The chance of an avalanche is also present in these areas.

There are now ways to study the composition of snow. There are ways to survey an area and get information such as its depth or density. This will aid in finding out if a location is navigable by vehicles, or if it is possible to bring machinery there to clear it. There are scientific methods used to study snow.

Understanding Snow

You may wonder if existing techniques such as sound navigation ranging (SONAR) are being used to check snow density. SONAR works by throwing sound waves that are then reflected or “echoed” back. These echoes give away the locations of objects and obstacles. But SONAR is mostly used underwater. Snow is a far more complex material with varying degrees of densities under its layers.

Echolocation may not give enough information about it. What you see on the snow’s surface is usually not indicative of what lies beneath. The different layers are a mix of soft and hard snow. As its volume increases, the bottom layers become denser. This is because of the top layers pressing against it. It can become dense enough to form ice. The middle layers can hide hollow spaces. These are potential traps for people who walk over them.

Detecting Snow

Current techniques are still based on SONAR. A single detector installed in a vessel, such as a submarine, is enough to map out a big part of the ocean. Snow is a denser and more porous material. Sound waves behave differently around it. That is not to say that SONAR will not be effective. It should just be tailored to the material that you want to detect.

One method is to stick a probe or rod into the snow. At the end of it will be the sensor. One of these is not enough to provide accurate information. Having a lot of these spread out in an area should give a better picture.

The Future

houses and tress covered in snow

There are existing studies that aim to be less invasive in detecting snow. One is the combination of using a penetrometer and near-infrared photography. The former works by applying pressure to the ground surface to measure its resistance, while the latter uses a different light spectrum that makes it possible to see beyond what the naked eye can. This technique promises to identify the snow type with high accuracy. They have already yielded impressive results.

The use of SONAR will continue and be more refined. A new device is being developed. Attached to a light vehicle, it then sends out clicks at different points in an area. Many mics will then pick up the echo. This is all done without digging into the snow.

If you think about it, snow is an unpredictable material. It can change phases. But worry not, for science and technology are here to help peel the mystery away.

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