The World Goes Silent During Snowfall

Samuel Reason | November 28th, 2018

You’re really not just imagining things when faced with heavy snowfall, the world really does quiet down and go silent. What does make the world filled with snow seem so tranquil, is it just something you believe was true or is it a reality – the conversation that fills the dinner tables during the winter season. But of course, there is a scientific reason for it and it has to do with acoustics.

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Snow is actually an amazingly natural sound absorbent, when it comes to what is audible, a couple of inches of snow will be absorbing 60% of sound on average. This has to do with the big amount of space between snowflakes, which means there is a lot less space for sound waves to bounce around in. This is a direct oppression of rain which can amplify noise. Combined with snowflakes amazing sound absorption abilities it means that snow is a quiet weather phenomenon.

Though this super sound quieting power can change as soon as the structure of the snow starts to change – something that can happen during varying winter weather: melting & refreezing. This causes the snow to become liquid and then harden when it freezes, harden icy snow will make sound reflect more and is no longer as absorbent. Much like a mirror, hard ice will reflect sound and cause it to amplify, this is why when you are walking on a frozen lake you are able to seemingly shout louder. It is not actually yourself shouting louder but more than your voice travels further as it reflects off the ice.

So the next time you are out walking in the snow, take in a deep breath and enjoy that space of quiet tranquility. Maybe even shout out thanks to those special snowflakes – after all, no one is going to hear you.

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