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Coming into the Country, Book III. © 1976, 1977 by John McPhee

"The spruce in their millions are thick with snow, but not heavy snow--a light dry loaf on every bough, with frost as well in chain crystals. Just touch one of these trees and all of its burden falls, makes craters in the snow of the ground. The load is so delicately poised a breath can break it, a mild breeze denude the forest. Day after day, the great northern stillness will preserve this Damoclean scene, while the first appearance of each February dawn shoots pink light into the trees, and colors all the blanketed roofs, the mushroom caps on barrels and posts. Overhead, sometimes, a few hundred feet above the ground stillness, the wind is audibly blowing."

Depending on environmental conditions, different tree species will be dominant at different successional stages. The characteristic group of tree species in a given area is referred to as a forest type. Within each type, certain species may be found most commonly under specific soil and climate conditions and at certain times after a disturbance; these species are best evolved physiologically to compete under these conditions. In areas of recurrent fire, for example, fire-resistant trees will likely predominate. GME98 ©1998Grolier's Electronic Encyclopedia

(sno) n. 1. Frozen precipitation in the form of white or translucent hexagonal ice crystals that fall in soft white flakes. Snow is composed of small crystals of frozen water; the crystals form directly by condensation of atmospheric water vapor around solid nuclei at temperatures below 0 degrees C (32 degrees F). As individual crystals of ice (snow crystals) fall through the atmosphere, they cluster together and form snowflakes. The term snow is also applied to deposits on the ground that may occasionally cover as much as 23 percent of the Earth's total land surface. GME98 Copyright ©1998 Grolier's Electronic Encyclopedia/Dictionary



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