Atmosphere And Weather

Rapid Melting of Snow Packs

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"Rapid Melting of Snow Packs"
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More than 70 per cent of Earth’s fresh water resources are present in the form of ice, many of them cloaked over the mountainous ranges at higher altitudes (National Snow and Ice Data center, 2010). Snow packs, literally huge packs of snow covering mountain tops, are probably the best instance to enunciate the importance of frozen water as a valuable resource. These snow packs are indispensable suppliers of fresh water for the habitation, wildlife or human, that generally shelters at the foothills of lofty mountains. Case in point, the settlements in Colorado rely on the timely melting of snow packs facilitating supply of fresh water for drinking, several industrial processes and is crucial for the flora and fauna residing in the surrounding landscape (National Park Service, 2011).

However, a rather menacing dilemma hangs over these very settlements when recent drifts in the climate have caused the snow packs to behave errantly. Global demand for attention towards the threat of global warming has alerted almost the entirity of humanity about the melting of polar ice caps. But many dwellers of the picturesque foothills sleep oblivious to the crisis literally shadowing them. The greenhouse effect, a term now extensively familiarized amongst the masses, and its intensification due to ever-rising air pollution has led to drastic changes in the weather, more dramatically around the mountainous regions.

The formation of snow pack relies dedicatedly on the delicate balance between precipitation of humidity and the radiation from the atmosphere and from the ground below. The current model of climate change due to global warming suggests that there has been an unmistakable increase in the amount of precipitation at higher altitudes due to change in water currents across oceans, a direct consequence of melting polar ice caps. This altered behavior has led to an obvious rise in the levels of snow packs formed at higher altitudes. Compared to past records, there has been tremendous increase in the heights of these snow packs, which to a naïve bystander would look mesmerizing and rather friendly for the water supply (The New York Times, May, 2011).

However, the elevated and earlier arrival of summer heat has multiplied the peril. Due to the accumulation of green house gases (like CFCs, smokes from fossil fuels, Methane etc.) has led to a direct hype in heat levels around the globe. The same disruption of natural heat radiation has caused the snow packs to melt early and more quickly. Indeed, the most prominent threat faced by most of the settlements in and around California and New Mexico is the sudden thaw of these monstrous snow packs.

Sudden and rapid melting of snow packs can almost instantaneously cause floods in the foothills. The glaciers and rivers originated in these snow pack covered mountains have a high probability to overflow above the threatening levels. Incidences have already occurred in Montana revealing to the world the damage snow packs can cause if altered in their core behavior.

Another major danger this effect raises almost with a conniving intent is something called Albedo effect. The quick melting of snow packs would unleash the ground below and hence facilitate more radiation absorption and emission, up-regulating the radiation levels. This in turn acts as a positive loop causing more melting of snow.

This early clearing of snow pack then leaves almost no source of water left in the later seasons when there is a greater need for it. This can cause severe shortage and almost decapitating impact on the settlements. The present wildlife would be automatically affected by this chaotic melting of snow packs, first flooding their habitat and then pushing it into a drought-like catastrophe.

It is high time now that the researchers who have well-dug deep in the marshes examining climate changes to get out and do something about it. The hazards of melting ice caps and global warming have now started to illustrate themselves on a much grass root level in the form of snow pack melting. It seems that their remains only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to hope for a better tomorrow and build towards it by reducing global warming.

More about this author: Archit Bagul

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