The science behind why snow is noisy underfoot

Feb 18, 2021 | Blog, Quiet, Quiet Coalition, Sound

Photo credit: Amir Esrafili from Pexels

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Snow muffles sound by absorbing the sound waves, but it is also noisy underfoot. Why?

This fun report from WTTW in Chicago explains that snow contains tiny ice crystals that crunch when we compress them underfoot as we walk. I also learned that “the colder the snow, the louder the crunch.”

I spent four years in upstate New York’s snow belt while in medical school, before climate change. If I never see snow up close and personal ever again, that won’t be soon enough.

But I fondly remember walking across the first snowfall of the season, the untouched snow flakes crunching under my boots.

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