Chill ways to recycle last year's snow Let it snow! Many cities are looking at ways to save snow for the hot summer months. (Oregon Department of Transportation via Flickr/AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Chill ways to recycle last year's snow
Lexile

In most places, the snowfall blanketing city streets during the winter is seen as a nuisance to quickly eliminate. In fact, heavy snowfall is often considered such an important test that blizzards can make or break many politicians' careers. Some places, however, are bucking the trend. They are treating snowfall as a resource instead of a burden, Marlene Cimons reports for Popular Science.
 
It might seem almost like waste to keep giant snowdrifts around through the height of summer. But the hottest times of year are just when a big pile of snow might seem like a relief. With global temperatures continuing to rise, several countries have begun to experiment. They are looking at ways of saving their winter snow to put it to use when they need it most.
 
"Snow is not a waste, but a resource," Kasun Hewage, associate professor of engineering at the University of British Columbia, tells Cimons. "With temperatures rising in many areas, and with them, air conditioning bills, we as societies are increasingly looking at resources and materials differently."
 
Hewage's recent study was published in the journal Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy. It found that pumping air through a room cooled by snow could reduce the need for traditional air conditioning during warm weather. Facilities in several countries, including Japan and Sweden, have already implemented ways to make use of heavy snowfall. They keep it in specially designed, insulated rooms that can cool air conditioning systems or even keep food cold, Cimons reports.
 
Cooling down office buildings isn't the only thing saving snow can do: it can also be a lifesaver for businesses that rely on regular snowfall, like ski resorts. As winters get warmer and heavy snows become more infrequent, many resorts have turned to making their own snow to blanket their slopes. But by figuring out ways to keep as much of that snow preserved through warmer months as possible, these places not only make sure they will open on time, but can save money and reduce how much fuel they use each winter to keep their slopes fresh, John Hopewell reports for The Washington Post.
 
In that case, keeping snow around can be as simple as piling it into mounds and covering them with special tarps to keep in the cold. But snow-cooled systems likely won't be replacing air conditioners any time soon. It's also likely that the method would only be feasible in parts of the world that get a certain amount of snow each year. Currently, Hewage and his colleagues see it more as a potential option for cities and towns to recoup some of the expenses they accrue for removing snow by putting it to work to reduce high electricity bills, Cimons writes.
 
"It is a proven technology ... (but) the economic feasibility of this is climate-dependent," Hewage tells Cimons.
 
As the world gets warmer, the climates that could take advantage of this type of air conditioning could become increasingly rare.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why must snow be covered with special tarps to keep it cold?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (30)
  • monicas-ste
    12/09/2016 - 01:46 p.m.

    This is so cool. I love snow so this is a great article. This is so awesome.

  • irisp-ste
    12/12/2016 - 10:11 a.m.

    The tarps lock in the cold in the snow to keep it from freezing over time.

  • zakrym-ste
    12/13/2016 - 01:20 p.m.

    The winter is my favorite time of year. I go outside in the winter but not the summer. In this article, the tarps lock down the cold

  • kaileew-ste
    12/14/2016 - 01:17 p.m.

    Snowfall is often considered something that can break a politicians career which is very interesting. Kasun Hewage says snow is a resource. This is a very different point of view on something that we view as days off school.

  • noahr-ste
    1/05/2017 - 01:19 p.m.

    I honestly do not like the winter I prefer warm weather. But in article the tarps keep the snow cold and lock it in so the snow cant freeze or melt.

  • jenna-war
    1/11/2017 - 11:26 a.m.

    I think that it is a great Idea to save our snow to use later on because the earth is warming up and maybe it'll help cool it down in time if we figure out a good enough way to save our snow.

  • anthony3-war
    1/11/2017 - 11:27 a.m.

    I never thought of snow as I renewable source. I know there such things as fake snow but that has harsh chemicals that can danger the environment. Making snow renewable is a good idea. This will help out many businesses that rely on snow.

  • summer2-war
    1/11/2017 - 11:30 a.m.

    To recycle snow and make use of it rather than seeing it as a burden, it must be kept cold, obviously, in order to use. Using specially designed, insulated rooms that can cool air conditioning systems or even keep food cold is a great way to use snow as a recourse. Piling it into mounds and covering them with special tarps to keep in the cold is also useful in utilizing snow as a valuable means of recycling, which could benefit us with future increasing temperatures where heavy snowfalls will not be as common, and in the presence to save money since we put so much into plowing and maintaining snowfall.

  • stanley-war
    1/11/2017 - 11:31 a.m.

    This experiment sound useful because as global warming becomes worse it would be nice to have snow because it becomes less frequent. and it could save a lot off money while the summers get warmer

  • jarrod-war
    1/11/2017 - 11:31 a.m.

    Snow need to covered by tarps because if you theatrically this its possible you would need a away to keep the snow from melting. if there is no tarp the snow would melt leaving the companies in the same position no costumers no snow and most importantly no MONEY. if this is possible you would need countless supplies of cooling systems and snow. still this is a very interesting idea.

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