Friday, March 05, 2010

We still have a lot of snow on the ground, but a lot of it will just disappear into thin air

Snow and the Sublime Process of Sublimation
If all the snow on the ground had to melt before it disappeared, we'd have even more runoff and flooding in the spring than we normally do. Instead, some of it just disappears into thin air. It's called sublimation -- in chemistry, "the transition of a substance from the solid phase to the gas phase without undergoing intermediate liquification." And that's why a nice run of sunny days like the ones we've had gets rid of a lot more snow than you'd think just looking at what's running into the storm sewers.

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