Investigating the Curious Sound Properties of Snow
Picture it. A white pillowy cloud-like substance falling from the sky, landing on the rooftops of houses and covering the streets, and providing an immediate sense of calm. For a brief moment the world feels quieter and still. Besides obvious reasons for the peace – such as people choosing to hide away indoors to escape the cold – there is a real scientific explanation behind why snow gives us such serene, and sometimes therapeutic, comfort.
In an article by Science Daily, David Herrin, an associate professor at the UK College of Engineering, explains that snow is actually a good sound absorber when compared to a commercial sound-absorbing foam. A couple of inches of snow is estimated to absorb up to 60% of surrounding noise.
And according to studies by the Michigan State University Extension, the reason why snow can absorb so much sound is because it is porous. After all, snowflakes are six-sided crystals that fill open spaces, and in doing so, they are especially prolific at absorbing sound waves. Wherever there is a blanket of snow, it creates a quieting effect – even when snow is falling, it hardly makes any noise due to the low density of snowflakes.
But as snow melts away, it loses the ability to absorb sound because of massive structural change. When it melts away and becomes ice, the space between the crystals is reduced – sounds are amplified, because rather than absorbing sound, ice reflects sound waves. So while we’re in the thick of winter, make the most of it by visiting our round-up of the most calming, snowed-in locations around the world.
Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Recognised for its natural landscape, the Swiss Alps offer sights of lush green mountain ranges in the warmer seasons and snow-covered ski slopes in the colder months. Prepare for a fun winter getaway in Switzerland by skiing in the afternoon and later in the evening, cosying up by the fire and watching beautiful light snow fall from the night sky.
There are a number of lodging choices to select from bed and breakfast inns, hotels, to entire chalets you can rent out with family and friends. Nothing is more relaxing than sitting back in your armchair, breathing in the crisp winter air and admiring the untouched Swiss scenery.
Travel to Hokkaido for the rich culture and delicious cuisine, but choose to stay at one of their many famed winter ski resorts. A popular tourist destination for many locals to ski and getaway from the hustle and bustle of their major cities, Japan’s northernmost main island is mainly known for its volcanoes and natural hot springs.
Embrace Japanese traditions by putting on your kimino and heading over to their onsens. Bathe in hot natural mineral water while taking in the beautiful and serene snowy surroundings. Not only will you be able to relax your body, but you’ll be able to put your mind at ease.
Besides being known as a hotspot for mountain biking and hiking in the summer, Whistler is also recognised for its skiing and snowboarding in the winter. It is considered one of the top destinations in North America to go and enjoy winter sports, and has even hosted events for the Winter Olympic Games in 2010.
The resort municipality north of Vancouver looks like a beautiful winter wonderland with its many native pine trees and natural lakes. There are multiple resorts and lodgings to rest in after a long day of snowboarding and skiing, many of which also offer heated pool and jacuzzi facilities.
South of the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is considered one of the most popular tourist spots in Finland. Like Tromsø, you will also be able to see the Northern Lights, while the province is also recognised as the official hometown of Father Christmas, Santa Claus.
Visitors will be able to meet the big red man at Santa Claus Village and see his many four-legged helpers at the reindeer farm. For those looking for adventure, individuals can experience a thrilling husky dog-sledding ride in the winter snow.
This wouldn’t be a complete list without mentioning the Northern Lights. The comfort of a vast snowy landscape with the beautiful green and blue trails of aurora borealis overhead is sure to help you find your inner zen. The best time to visit the Northern Lights is between late August to April, mainly due to the longer hours of darkness and clearer skies.
Already renowned for its beautiful landscape, it is considered one of the greatest natural wonders in the world and has fascinated scientists for centuries. Delight both your visual and auditory senses in Tromsø by joining the many dog and reindeer sledding tours available. There are also numerous accommodation options and house lodgings available that offer stunning views throughout the night.
Cover Credit: Natalie Toombs/Unsplash
Writer | Kristy Or
A fan of indie films and alternative music, Kristy is a writer and producer from Sydney. Tea and coffee are a vital part of her diet.