Life Under the Snow
The winter landscape can appear essentially barren of wildlife, but a surprising array of life thrives above, within, and beneath blankets of snow.
The smaller, microbial life that flourishes under the snow is just beginning to be understood, and it, too, prospers according to the whims of weather. But the lifecycles of subnivean microbes seem to have even further-reaching ramifications than local population dynamics. We see snow as a transformative element, brilliantly whitening our vision. But beneath its still surface, these tiniest of life-forms ebb and surge, ravaging secret winter feasts. Their tiny subnivean lives and deaths alter the composition of our atmosphere--and may affect the entire planet's health.
This story originally ran in the November-December 2012 issue as "Packed to the Hilt."