CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - You might not think that something as simple an inch of snow cover could make such a difference. In the case of our recent snowfall, it started with northeast Iowa going below zero in a few spots this past Sunday morning, then struggling to even get to 20 that afternoon. Even Tuesday, the temperatures will have trouble warming despite several hours of sunshine.
This all has to do with albedo, which is the proportion of light or radiation reflected off a surface. Snow pack has very high albedo, meaning most of the sun’s light gets reflected back. Because it’s not being absorbed, the Earth’s surface doesn’t warm as effectively since most of the radiation is going back out to space.