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)
  • hanna-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:09 p.m.

    Snow is made when water condenses in the cold air, so when it warms up the snow begins to melt. Special traps keep the cold air trapped in to keep the snow frozen and the warm air out that melts it.

  • john16-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:11 p.m.

    You can use snow for many things and many uses for it. It is fun to play in AND all that but other than that it is stupid.,

  • hayley-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:12 p.m.

    I think its interesting that snowfall could make or break a politicians career. Even though its not always something they could control.

  • alexism3-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:19 p.m.

    Who doesn't love snow is the question. If you don't like snow then there I something wrong with you. This is a great idea to find someway to keep the snow from melting away so that way people can always play in snow and ski in it year round.

  • brandon4-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:19 p.m.

    Although plausible it is very impractical and not useful to most cities although it would be able to be used for short periods of time. Also as stated in the article the world gets warmer that means less snow but an increased need on it you are relying on what's dwindling so its a very limited and situational idea.

  • kaitlyn-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:23 p.m.

    My mom works for a propane company and I know how expensive air conditioning can get. I think that it is a great idea to use snow if it is going to save money.

  • rachel-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:28 p.m.

    I think that saving snow is a great way to use the snow. Like in California, they just went through a serve drought. So if we could use collected snow to help them, maybe it will save lives.

  • trey-war
    1/11/2017 - 02:29 p.m.

    Winter is my favorite season, so having a longer winter or more snow is completely OK with me. This is good for me

  • gabrielleb-pla
    1/23/2017 - 02:36 p.m.

    This story talks about how we, as a society, can use snow as a resource, versus seeing it as a nuisance. It mentions a few ways that we could harvest snow, and how it would help the environment.

    Although it may not seem like it at face value, I think this would be a good opportunity for civic engagement. By advocating for more use of natural resources, such as snow, for alternative energy and other uses, we could stop the trend of global warming. If a group got together to discuss this topic and how we might actually get it to happen, we could make a change. This could even start at the city level with people talking to their mayors or city council in order to get some action started for the use of our natural resources.

  • keasiak-bur
    3/31/2017 - 10:14 p.m.

    Snow must be covered with special tarps to keep it cold so that all of the cold from the snow traps itself while it's in the pile. The tarp keeps the cold air from the snow together and causes the snow to stay frozen.

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