Why is the World Quiet When it Snows? - The Acoustics of Nature

Posted by My Acoustic Panels . on

Why is the World Quiet When it Snows? -  The Acoustics of Nature

There is nothing quite like standing outside after the snow has fallen and taking in the peacefulness. You may have not noticed this before, but if you live in a northern climate, I encourage you to head outside after the next snowfall. But why is this the case?

It turns out that My Acoustic Panels is not the only place where high NRC (noise reduction coefficient) items exist! Snow absorbs sound, so when a fresh blanket of snow covers the landscape, it absorbs many of the sound waves, making it seem quieter outside, according to AccuWeather. Depending upon how much snow falls the predicted NRC of fresh snow is somewhere between 0.5 and 0.9!  On a scale of 0 to 1.0, that places snow on the top performing end of acoustical absorption. Just a dusting is not enough to create this effect, but a heavy snowfall will. Snow itself is porous and individual snowflakes are six-sided crystals which are filled with open spaces, according to the Michigan State University Extension. Those spaces absorb sound waves, creating a quieting effect over a blanket of snow.

The next factor to consider is that, unlike an acoustical panel or baffle, snow is not localized.  The volume of snow in any given outdoor area is substantial, bringing down the overall reverberation of a large area after a snowfall.

But, this magical effect does not seem to last.  There is a scientific explanation for that too. The structure of the snow itself is subject to change. When the snow surface melts and refreezes the open space between the snowflake crystals is reduced, causing the surface of the snow to become hard and reflect sound waves, causing sounds to travel farther and become clearer, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Time to get outside and enjoy the beauty and sounds of nature, because as with many other things, these moments are fleeting.


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