Aspect

Aspect refers to the direction in which things face. Associated with altitude and local relief, aspect plays a significant role in influencing freeze–thaw processes, and thus snow melt and snow lie.

At a macro-scale, the north facing aspects of larger corries are colder and hold the snow for longer. At the micro-scale, small hollows on the shallow plateau slopes catch the snow. Those snowbeds facing north and east hold their snow for much longer periods. Variations in the length of snow cover are in turn reflected by differences in the vegetation.

At a local scale, aspect may also affect the flowering of plants in high places. Another name for the moss campion, already mentioned for its cushion habit, is ‘compass plant’, as the flowers on the south-facing side of the cushion always flower first.

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