What do World Snowman Day, sports attractions and healthy ecosystems have in common? Snow, of course!

Światowy Dzień Bałwana

On January 18, we celebrate World Snowman Day and this is a great opportunity to create a snow man with a carrot instead of a nose. Snowman molding brings generations together, provides outdoor movement and fun, and adds variety to the landscape of urban and rural backyards. Let’s hope the snowmen persevere for as long as possible, as we will celebrate World Snow Day on Sunday, January 21, with plenty of activities organized for children across Europe and beyond.

World Snowman Day and World Snow Day – what are their meanings?

Skeptics may cringe at yet another “made up” day on the calendar, but the winter symbolism, especially in an era of global warming, should give food for thought. According to historian Giorgio Vasari, Michelangelo himself at the behest of Peter de Medici in the 15th century. improved a beautiful snow figure in Florence – a work of art that has not been preserved, of course. Snowman Day prompts reflection: will a similar fate befall most of the earth’s snowpack?

Organized by the International Ski Federation (FIS), Snow Day, which falls on the third Sunday in January, is designed to encourage children and young people to enjoy active recreation in winter conditions. To mark the occasion, discounts, free lessons and contests on the ski slopes are prepared every year. This global initiative promotes sports and health, but also supports sustainable development by sensitizing the public to the effects of climate change, deforestation and carbon footprint.

Snow and the Earth’s climate

The lack of snow for Snowman Day is the sad result of a winter that is too warm or too dry. The snow cover, which in the Northern Hemisphere alone was 2023 in December. 42.47 million square kilometers, however, is not only a resultant, but also a factor actively influencing the climate. In spring, when the days lengthen in our part of the world, the white shield reflects up to 80-90 percent. solar radiation, protecting the Earth from overheating. Unfortunately, dirty, contaminated snow is much less effective at this, as its albedo is lower.

The snow cover not only reflects radiation, but also provides excellent insulation. Even under 30 cm of snow, the soil and the organisms living in it are perfectly protected from changes in external temperature. Not only heat is retained, but also moisture, which will allow lush greenery to grow in the coming summer season. If snow is scarce, the soil freezes, stops absorbing water and thus becomes a harbinger of drought.

Snow cover as the largest retention reservoir

Abundant winter snowfall not only means a successful Snowman Day and perfect skiing conditions, but also the best gift for natural ecosystems. The snow that melts with the arrival of spring feeds rivers, lakes and groundwater, providing water to vegetation, animals and people. For us, rushing rivers are not only potable and usable water, but also a fantastic source of renewable energy. According to the International Energy Agency, hydroelectric power plants in 2020. They provided as much as 17 percent. of global energy production – more than nuclear power.

On Snowman Day, let’s also think about biodiversity

In mild winters, people take off their hats and change into lighter jackets, glad that at least the streets are passable. For many animal species, however, snow is part of the natural balance and its absence is sometimes acute. The white caps with their high insulation index provide ideal hibernation conditions for bears or marmots, which need to conserve energy during periods of food scarcity. For other species, snowfall regulates the migration process considered by scientists to be a necessary component of the global balance of ecosystems. Animal nomads spread seeds around the world, facilitate pollination, regulate populations and support the health of food chains.

Unfortunately, data from the Global Snow Lab, based at Rutgers University in the U.S., indicate that the area of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is consistently decreasing. The water content of the snow and its average thickness also decrease. Meanwhile, it is the northern hemisphere that is home to 98 percent of the world’s population. seasonal snow cover. Its melting is due not only to an increase in the Earth’s average temperature, but also to the deposition of dust and soot on the snow.

If anthropogenic emissions and air pollution are not significantly reduced, World Snowman Day or World Snow Day at the end of the 21st century. can gain a rather sad dimension.

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