Meterological Classification of Natural Snow Crystals
The rich history of scientific classification of ice crystals probably began with the invention of the microscope in the 1600's.
Before the microscope, curious scientists and illustrators made educated guesses based upon what they could see with the naked eye.
Sometimes these guesses were pretty far out, as evidenced by the wood cutting of snowflakes by Archbishop of Uppsala, Olaus Magnus in the year 1555.
Better "guesses" later on were somewhat accurate but it was the microscope that really shed light on these tiny ice structures.
Historic and Modern Classification of Snow Crystals
Early microscopes could manage about 200 times magnification. Today snow crystal images can be photographed at many thousands of times magnification with Electron Microscopes.
There are no 100 percent accurate systematic classification schemes of crystal types because of the many different types of snowflakes, weather conditions, and opinions of the researchers.
This doesn't mean the existing (and future) classification charts aren't useful guides, however.
Physicist Ukichiro Nakaya developed the first classification chart with 41 morphological types of crystals.
Magono and Lee updated this information with their version with contained 80 snow crystal types in the year 1966.
The snow scientists Magono and Lee conducted extensive field work on weather conditions, moisture, temperature, etc., that affect snow crystal formation.
Their article "Meteorological Classification of Natural Snow Crystals," appeared in the Journal of the Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University, Japan.
Magono & Lee classification of snow crystals includes 80 different snow crystal types arranged into a comprehensive scheme that provides a numbering and lettering system to categorized snow crystals according to shape and structure.
Today the most accurate and timely information concerning the different types of crystals is here at A Guide to Snowflakes Ken Libbrecht's Snowflake Classifications.
- A Guide to Snowflakes Ken Libbrecht's Snowflake Classifications
- Global Seasonal Snow Classification System
- The International Classification for Seasonal Snow on the Ground (pdf)
- Electron Microscope
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