A roughly earth-size planet orbits a cool G-class star, but barely within its circumstellar habitable zone ("Goldilocks zone") allowing liquid water. It has a shallow inclination and and lackluster seasonal change, fairly evenly distributed continental masses, and I think this would allow the poles to get very cold. (But should be warm enough on average for ocean evaporation and precipitation cycles, and to support analogues of tundra, taiga, and boreal forest in the "tropics".)
I had an idea, I want to see if there is a plausible way under these circumstances to allow for a polar "snow sea" such that the snow is light and frictionless enough to allow some degree of fluidity. I read this answer about "sand tides" and it has some interesting information on viscosity, so I googled "snow viscosity" and found lots of interesting information and math about rheology that I cannot really comprehend.
This powerpoint is what I came closest to being able to parse. It is more related to avalanches, but the math seems like it could be used to identify conditions where the viscosity of snow is least.
I did find out that snow is viscoelastic and you would have to mitigate both aspects of this property. What it looks like is that it would require the snow to
- Not melt at all, of course
- be in round grains, not flakes or faceted grains
- for the grains to be small and homogenous enough to slide around freely
and probably the biggest obstacle is that
- the weight of the snow somehow needs to not compact the snow below it into snowpack.
There has to be some kind of suspension effect.
The only ideas I have so far verge on phlebotinum:
- Somehow with static electricity?
- Some kind of lipid byproduct produced in large quantities by chionophile microorganisms?
- Volcanic outgassing that somehow doesn't melt the snow
- Tectonic activity that continually vibrates the snow
Does anyone know of something obvious and more straightforward? I'm not just fishing for ideas here. If it is really too much of a stretch, I'm happy to hear about it.
This is my first question here, hi everyone. Happy to accept corrections.