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30 March, 2002

Last day of SWEEEE talk!!!!! Why do we measure SWE's? Why are they important??

If we know the density of snow, then we also can know the thermal conductivity of the snow. This means how insulative the snow actually is. Snow can be thought of as a huge, warm blanket that warms everything that lies underneath. The amount of snow can actually warm the vegetation causing it to grow taller. This is why we are seeing the effect that larger shrubs have on the ecosystem. The larger the shrubs, the more snow is trapped hence the ground is warmed. Since the ground is warmed, the vegetation can continue to grow larger. If the vegetation continues to grow larger, there is more brown or dark colors on the land. Dark colors absorb light or radiation from the sun, whereas, light colors reflect radiation. All of you have experienced this when you have worn a black coat on a warm, hot, sunny, NC day. The black coat is absorbing the sun's radiation causing you to be warm. The same phenomenon occurs with the snow and vegetation. The white snow reflects the solar rays sending it back into the atmosphere. The dark colors of the vegetation absorbs the sun's rays trapping this heat in the Earth's atmosphere. So, if the vegetation is growing taller in the Arctic this could be changing the overall climate of the Earth.

The snow in the shrubs also affects the microbial activity within the soil. This means the bacteria activity occurring in the soil. There are countless numbers of bacteria in the soil that are undergoing activities that affect the entire ecosystem. The snow in the shrubs insulates the ground causing the ground to be warmer. Since the ground is warmer, the microbial activity will be higher. In the tundra, there is less snow causing the ground to be colder causing less microbial activity to occur. Since the theory is that the Arctic is warming and there is a change in vegetation occurring, the shrubs are getting bigger. If the shrubs are getting bigger, than there is more microbial activity occurring in the soil. This microbial activity releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This release of carbon dioxide could affect the entire atmospheric gas components. If there is a significant amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, it could be related to the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Another application of density is a biological importance. The density of snow can affect the harsh Arctic animal life. There is a fierce, wild predator to prey relationship that occurs in the cold land. If the density of the snow is low, the snowpack will be soft meaning there is less water molecules in that given space. If the density of the snow is high, the snowpack will be hard because the molecules are tightly packed together. Caribou and moose are two large animals that travel on this snow. They are also hunted by predators such as wolves and wolverines. If the density of the snowpack is low, the caribou and moose will have a hard time walking across the snowpack. They will stumble and fall in the masses of snow. This makes for a much easier kill for the wolf and wolverine. They are able to catch up and attack the large animals weakened by the snowpack. Biologists are able to determine if the caribou and moose populations will be altered greatly in a year due to the snowpack.

See, The SWEEEEEE's a very important and useful scientific measurement!!!!!


Longitude: 65.93907 North

Latitude: 161.29051 West

High Temp: -6 degrees Celsius

Low Temp : -15 degrees Celsius

Camp was broken and we traveled in our caravan of snowmachines onto the tundra. The morning was blessed with a fox traveling fast across the tundra. It seemed to be hurrying about it's daily life as we were with ours. The clouds that traveled in during the night brought warmth and a light dusting of snow. We performed two tundra sites and traveled on to Buckland. Tonight we camp close to Buckland.


April Cheuvront

7133 Rhododendron Drive

Newland, NC 28657

(828) 439-5737 ../tea_cheuvrontfrontpage.html aprilcheuv@yahoo.com

Our 6 snowmachines with all of our sleds and equipment. We travel approximately 20 miles a day and perform multiple snow measurements. ===== April Cheuvront 7133 Rhododendron Drive Newland, NC 28657 (828) 439-5737 ../tea_cheuvrontfrontpage.html aprilcheuv@yahoo.com

The snow forms drifts against the tussocks of the tundra.

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