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Anne Diamond | 12:02 UK time, Thursday, 24 January 2013

a family of snowmen

And build a snowman!

Apparently it all started as a bit of a throwaway comment from a spokesman for the Environment Agency - that compacted, heaped-up snow melts more slowly than even-lying snow, like when you build a snowman!

Then suddenly the Agency found that all the newspapers had picked up on that line and turned it into "Save Britain from Flooding and Build A Snowman".

Their official line: "While building snowmen is great fun, sadly it is unlikely to make a significant difference to the overall rate at which the snow melts across the country and won't protect your home from flooding..."

Well, yes, we get that. But is it true that it could help?

Well, I had to know. So I found me a snow physicist - yes there is one at the University of Reading, Mel Sandells.

She said said while there was some "logic" to the agency's advice it would only work for a "very short time". "It comes down to the rate of heat transfer and energy that can pass through air bubbles in the snow. The more compact they are the slower the snow will thaw but really as long as heat is coming from the sun and the temperature is well above freezing the thawing process will be undeterred."

So now you can make up your own mind.


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