The Science of Snow for Children and Teachers
How to Catch a Falling Snowflake
- When it is cold and snowy outside, take a sheet of black paper outside and allow it to cool to air temperature
- Place it on the ground and let snowflakes collect on the paper
- Before they melt, look at them with a powerful magnifying glass
- Try to find all seven basic snowflake shapes
Famous Snowflake Quote: "The wonder of a single snowflake outweighs the wisdom of a million meteorologists." - Francis Bacon
In 1951 the International Commission on Snow and Ice devised a classification system to identify the seven basic forms of snow crystals. This chart undoubtedly included the results and data from the cumulative and exhaustive efforts of Snowflake Bentley and other early ice explorers.
Since then the chart of snow crystals has expanded greatly. In 1966, snow scientists, Magono and Lee, conducted extensive field work on weather conditions, moisture and temperature developed their own snowflake classfication charts.
Main Classifications of Snow Crystal Formation
Modern day snow scientist, Ken Libbrecht continues to contribute to the advancement of snow studies with his published charts of snowflake classifications and related important scientific discoveries.
The 7 main shapes or classifications are:
Stellar Plate Crystals are star-like with unbroken arms. When the ridges become defined and prominent, they are called Sectored plates. These are the most common snowflakes with thin, plate-like crystals
Irregular Crystals are types of snow crystals that cannot be classified into any particular group or subgroup.
Graupels form when
snow crystals fall through very moist air see Photo #807.
Hail forms when a precipitation particle falls through a layer of moist air and becomes coated with a layer of ice.
Hexagonal Prism is the basic ice crystal shape. They are very tiny and usually cannot be seen without a magnifying glass.
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