Did you ever think that the simple act of building a snowman could help the environment? After London was blanketed with snow this week, Roy Stokes, a spokesman for Great Britain’s Environmental Agency urged citizens to build snowmen to help prevent flooding. The suggestion was met with critcism and later withdrawn, but experts admit that Stokes was onto something: Since tightly packed snow takes longer to melt, building an army of snowmen could theoretically help mitigate flooding in urban areas.

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Although Stokes’ advice was retracted, Dr. Sim Reaney of the University of Durham sees value in building a Frosty or two on your lawn. Reaney agrees, that building snowmen in rural areas, where rainwater floods watercourses, will probably make little difference. However, the best place for this to actually make impact is in urban areas, where melted runoff clogs storm sewers and drains, causing water pollution.

Packed snow stays colder longer, giving a gradual melt rather than an immediate flood. This could be especially helpful during situations when heavy snows are followed by warmer heavy rains, which melts the ground snows and washes it into city sewers, causing heavy floods.

Sadly, individual snowmen may not make much of a difference, other than providing family fun for a few hours. But  city agencies should consider the preventative power of packed snow — if the idea was taken on a larger scale initiative, it could make a huge difference in stalling melting in urban areas.

Via BBC News

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