SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Pattern formed by melting snow and the surface runoff it produces. In hydrology this is known as snowmelt, and the water is an important part of the annual water cycle in many parts of the world, particularly where large snowfall is a frequent occurrence. Rapid runoff can cause flooding, and if it becomes frozen there is a danger of accidents caused by the formation of black ice on road surfaces. Many factors determine the pattern and distribution of snowmelt. Energy fluxes include ground heat flux and solar radiation inputs and other sources producing convection, conduction, evaporation and condensation.
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