The museum’s traveling exhibition shows the importance of snow

Photo courtesy of UAF.

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – Snow is key to life on Earth, but the UAF Geophysical Institute says snow is changing, coming later and melting earlier, affecting life and the environment.

In a statement from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, they said snow reflects up to 80% of sunlight, functioning as an essential cooling radiator for the planet. It becomes liquid water in the spring to benefit crops and fill reservoirs that produce electricity.

To highlight the importance of snow, the Fairbanks Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland and their collaborators have created “Snow: Tiny Crystals, Global Impact “, an interactive museum exhibit about snow and the vital role it plays. in the global climate system. The traveling exhibit, which opens Feb. 1 in Oregon, is funded by the National Science Foundation.

An opening ceremony will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on February 1, with a program beginning at 3:50 p.m. Erin Graham, president and CEO of the museum, and Matthew Sturm, group leader for the snow group , Ice and Permafrost at the UAF Geophysical Institute, will be among those speaking.
Sturm will also speak at the museum’s Science Pub at 7 p.m. on February 1 at the museum’s Empirical Theater. Tickets can be purchased online. A Zoom option is also available for those who RSVP.

“Humans have a love-hate relationship with snow,” Sturm said. “We ski and snowmobile on it, but we curse it when it covers our roads, cuts our electricity and cancels our air flights. But without snow, life as we know it would not be possible on planet Earth.
“As global snow cover changes, we have developed this exhibit to raise awareness of our connection to snow in a more fundamental way, as we will adapt to these changes whether we like it or not,” said he declared.

The exhibit is a collaboration between the UAF Geophysical Institute, the Museum of Science and Industry of Oregon, the Center for Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, and the Goldstream Group of Fairbanks. This is the second exhibition developed thanks to this collaboration. The previous one was a permafrost exhibit, also funded by the National Science Foundation.

“We are very pleased to collaborate again with the Geophysical Institute, especially for the enthusiastic and expert leadership of Matthew Sturm in telling the story of snow and climate,” said Victoria Coats, Head of the exhibit on snow for the Museum of Science and Industry of Oregon. “This exhibit is an important project at OMSI to advance our museum-wide strategic initiative to catalyze climate and environmental action.

“Exhibits are an essential part of climate communication in museums, and snow is a particularly familiar and attractive entry point for visitors,” she said. “We hope the exhibition will inspire climate action in all the museums visited during its national tour.”

“Snow: Tiny Crystals, Global Impact” will be at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry until April 10, then travel to regional museums across the country. The exhibit has not yet been scheduled to visit Alaska.

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