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Earth Matters : The sub-nivean zone: Life under the snow

By Reeve Gutsell

I hope this not only for those who may be hoping for a white Christmas, and not only for what a lack of snow may imply about our changing climate, but also because snow itself actually makes for better winter living conditions for our small wildlife friends, including moles, mice, voles (and their predators), various insects and an assortment of bacteria and other microscopic life. This is because snowfall causes the creation of what is known as the sub-nivean zone (from the Latin “sub” meaning “under” and “nives” meaning “snow”), which occurs after about six inches of accumulation.

Published in Earth Matters on January 2, 2016.

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