It’s not old news yet!

December 4, 2007


Well Glog readers, you’ve probably figured out by now that some of us here have a thing for snow. It’s true… when city-dwellers loath the arrival of the first flakes most Goulders relish the thick blanket of white (not all, of course).

Over the past couple days we had a beautiful “storm” of light fluffy flakes. I’m constantly amazed by snow- not only the little intricate ice crystals we call snowflakes, but also the changes that occur as soon as they hit the ground.

Through the winter, beneath the snow pack, the ground temperature stays just around freezing. This temperature gradient in the snowpack allow crystals to change and bond making layers of dense snow and layers that are loose, like ball bearings. Lots of little critters take advantage of the loose warm layer and spend the entire winter living in the subnivean space below the snow pack. Weasels, mice, and voles are just a few of the animals that live in tunnels beneath the snow. What happens when we have a major mid-winter thaw? Or a thaw followed by a hard freeze?

This picture is a melting snow pack, revealing the remnants of tunnels used by the subnivean space dwellers (that makes it sound like something out of starwars!).

Did you know that chickadees (Maine State Bird) shiver all winter? They spend nights nestled up close to the trunks of trees, taking advantage of the relative warmth of the tree. Some nights their body temperature actually drops below normal. This nocturnal hypothermia allows their metabolism to slow, which conserves precious calories. Do you need a cup of coffee to get going in the morning? Imagine how they feel waking up from a night of shivering and hypothermia!

Us humans have to adapt to living in winter as well. From looking around I have a theory about how Gould students adapt to the changing environment. We see some radical behavior changes here on campus with the arrival of snow. At all hours of the day (except class time) students can be found making the most of the hill next to Gehring. There seems to be a significant increase in PLAY! Snowboards aren’t just for Sunday River and sleds aren’t just for small children.

There’s a palpable energy that comes with falling snow. The opportunities for play seem endless! So don’t be afraid of the cold- put on some long underwear and warm clothes and head on out. The weather is FINE!

Until next week Gloggers,

-Tracey

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