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
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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)
  • michaela2-war
    1/11/2017 - 11:34 a.m.

    This is really cool. Snow is very pretty but its not my favorite. But its really cool for people who like snow.

  • gabby-war
    1/11/2017 - 11:35 a.m.

    Saving the snow could be a great resource for many businesses, including ski resorts that have to make their own snow in the warm summer months. In order to save the snow it must be covered with special tarps that trap the cold in to keep the snow from melting. Keeping snow that falls during the winter could be a great resource, and be very helpful for the summer months.

  • chris25-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:04 p.m.

    Snow must be covered with special tarps to keep it cold because, during non-winter months, the temperature may rise above freezing, turning the snow into useless, warm water, that can not be used to keep things cool in the warmer months.

  • hannah6-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:05 p.m.

    I like having a lot of snow. I wish we could figure out a way to save the snow around here so we could keep the snow around longer. Winter is my favorite season and having more snow would make it even better.

  • joey2-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:05 p.m.

    Snow must be covered with special tarps to keep it cold because the blankets help insulate the snow which traps the cold. Also, if the snow was not covered with blankets, it could cause the snow to gain heat and melt. The blankets provide a source of insulation to the snow to help preserve it.

  • shaylonna-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:08 p.m.

    This is a very cool and interesting article. These are some really interesting ways to help our communities. And snow can be used for several different ways depending on the occasion. Maybe we can even pitch in for people who might need the snow.

  • katelyn3-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:15 p.m.

    Snowfall is important for regulating temperatures. Without snow the icecaps would melt due to the increase in temperature. The water melted from the icecaps would completely flood areas like Florida that are peninsulas.

  • jacob13-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:16 p.m.

    The tarps probably reflect sunlight so the snow won't be heated as much. The tarps help reduce the heat given by the sun from radiation by having a smooth and whitish to help reflect sunlight.

  • colton-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:16 p.m.

    I think that this would be a very good to use snow as fuel. This is a good use of snow that most wouldn't want to deal with. Using snow as a resource could create a good working environment.

  • jacquelyn-war
    1/11/2017 - 01:17 p.m.

    Using excessive snowfall as a more eco-friendly way to have air conditioning is very creative and useful. Storing the snow and then later using it to cool rooms could be very effective especially in big buildings, and save money. Even though using snow differently could be very useful, it all depends on the climates of specific places.

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