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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published April 08 2014

Weather Talk: Spring thawing of ground strictly from warmth, sun

An email to weather@wday.com a couple of days ago asked how much of the frost coming out of the ground is from spring weather and how much comes from within the Earth. This is a very good question.

Most people do not think much about it, but the ground is a tremendous source of heat. Earth’s interior is thought to be made of solid iron at pressure so intense it remains solid. The temperature is estimated to be near 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Radiating outward in all directions, this heat source keeps our ground from freezing very deeply at our latitude.

But the thawing of the ground in spring is completely related to the returning warmth and sunshine of spring as the heat from below is a constant all year. There are places at more polar latitudes where the ground remains frozen all year except for a brief summer thaw. In portions of northern Siberia, this permafrost extends to a depth of almost 5,000 feet.


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