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May-June 2018

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Weather Front

Thermal Blankets Could Help Reduce Snow Removal Costs

A study appearing in the American Chemical Society's Langmuir journal finds that sunlight-absorbing thermal blankets can melt snow as much as three times faster than the snow would melt on its own. Because snow reflects most of the sunlight that shines down on it back into the air, piles of plowed snow can stay for weeks and even months, even when the temperatures get above freezing. Cities in regions that receive a lot of snow must transport the plowed snow to disposal sites or use gas-powered heaters to melt it. These are labor-intensive, costly exercises. Soot, antifreeze, and other melting products can speed the rate of melt, but there are concerns about contamination of water and soil from these chemicals.


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