Nancy and I are enjoying the snow from out first Utah winter. I noticed that as things warm up, the snow often melts first around the base of plants. Why?


The first thing to remember is that the Sun's energy reaches us as light, not heat. Once it reaches Earth, some of the light is absorbed and converted into heat energy. The white snow is reflecting most of the light, and very little is absorbed and converted into heat. Plants, rocks, and other things that stick up out of the snow absorb more of the light, so they are warmed by the sunlight and melt the snow around them. As the dirt is exposed, it is also warmed by the sunlight, causing the bare spots to expand.