Why does snow crunch when you step on it and at what temperature does it crunch

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A layer of snow is made up of ice grains with air in between the ice grains. Because the snow layer is mostly empty air space, when you step on a layer of snow you compress that layer a little or a lot, depending on how old the snow is.

As the snow compresses, the ice grains rub against each other. This creates friction or resistance; the colder the temperature, the greater the friction between the grains of ice.

The sudden squashing of the snow at lower temperatures produces the familiar creaking or crunching sound. At warmer temperatures, closer to melting, this friction is reduced to the point where the sliding of the grains against each other produces little or no noise. It's difficult to say at what temperature the snow starts to crunch, but the colder the snow, the louder the crunch.


[edit] Other Snow FAQ

or see Snow and Weather Glossary

[edit] Also See


[edit] Reference;

1. National Snow and Ice Data Center [1]


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