Footprints of Snow

February 08, 2001


Provided by: Jim Foster, NASA/GSFC
Summary author: Jim Foster

Normally, imprints made from footsteps in snow are not around after most of the snow melts. When we walk through the snow, our boots or shoes will penetrate shallow snow layers, leaving an impression of the length of our gait and the size of our clodhoppers. If however, the snow is deep, footsteps will not penetrate all of the way through the snowpack. After the January 1996 blizzard in the Washington-Baltimore area, two feet of snow covered the ground. Two weeks later, as shown in the above photo, most of this snow had melted. Our boots act to compress the snow beneath them, and this higher density snow takes longer to melt. It seems strange, but in some cases, it may be possible to track-down someone after the rest of the snow is gone.

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