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Sound and snow

Thomas Hough, Saturday May 30, 2020 - 13:51 EST

Snow transforms landscapes into winter wonderlands, but it also does more than just change the visuals. Have you ever noticed how snow can affect sound?

If you've ever been anywhere after fresh snowfall you may have noticed things seemed quieter than usual. The age and different characteristics of snow can affect how sound waves travel, with fresh snow acting to dampen them. It acts like modern acoustic tiles, absorbing sound leading to quieter surroundings. The deeper the snow, the greater the absorption of sound.

As snow changes over time, becoming more compacted, smoother and harder, so does the way it  affects sound. As it becomes harder and more densely packed, its ability to absorb sound is reduced. Instead, the harder surface helps to reflect sound, making them seem clearer.


ECMWF 850hPa Temperature early Tuesday 2nd June showing the cold airmass moving across the southeast


A strong front with plenty of moisture will move across the southeast tomorrow and Monday, with fresh snowfall expected over the alpine region. Those in Victoria could see around 10-20cm of snow, whilst those in New South Wales could see up to 30cm. If you’re in the area, see if you can hear the differences in sound, just after and in the days following the fresh snowfall.

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