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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 25 May, 2020
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Your evening longread: Can science protect us against the avalanche?

It’s a coronavirus-free zone as we bring you an interesting longread each evening to take your mind off the news.

Image: Shutterstock/Kirill Skorobogatko

EVERY WEEK, WE bring you a round-up of the best longreads of the past seven days in Sitdown Sunday.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you an evening longread to enjoy. With the news cycle dominated by the coronavirus situation, we know it can be hard to take your mind off what’s happening.

So we want to bring you an interesting read every weekday evening to help transport you somewhere else.

We’ll be keeping an eye on new longreads and digging back into the archives for some classics.

Snow science against the avalanche

Avalanche control began in the Alps as far back as 1937, but now a lot of the research in the US into the subject happens at a place called Alta. Here’s how they do their work there, but this piece is also a fascinating look at snow and how nature creates avalanches.

(The New Yorker, approx 25 mins reading time)

We think of the snow on a mountain as a solid mass. In reality, it is a layer cake created by serial snowfalls, each layer distinctive and changeable. “The snow cover is never in a state of repose,” Atwater wrote. “It is continually being pushed, pulled, pressed, bent, warmed, chilled, ventilated, churned.” The topmost layer might be evaporating into the night air; at the same time, radiant heat from the ground, or from nearby trees, could be melting the lowest layer. When the temperature differences between the layers are small, snow tends to sinter, or coalesce: the crystals knock off one another’s arms, becoming rounded grains that fuse into a strong, dense snowpack.

Read all of the Evening Longreads here>

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