Monday, January 21, 2008

Ice crystals on the snow

It was cold last week. Colder than I remember since moving to Colorado. Below zero (F) cold. Kinda wimpy for Vermont or Minnesota, but I'm here on a south-facing slope, with 300 sunny days a year, and it doesn't have to get to 20 below for me to feel it.

The cold, clear weather came on top of a couple feet of snow. And that has meant surface hoar.

I'm not a snow scientist. I'm not a backcountry skier, either, for that matter. My students could tell you much more about surface hoar and what it means for avalanche danger next time it snows.

Me, I just know that the surface of the snow sparkles, and that there are these tiny little tree-like crystals sticking up everywhere, and they are beautiful.

(The surface hoar photos are mine; the moon photo was taken by my husband.)

On a related note, I caught the beginning of this story on NPR about snowflakes. (I wanted to listen to the entire thing, but I have a four-year-old, and he wanted to discuss urinating polar bears. Some people hear stories about polar bears and think "oh, no, climate change!" My four-year-old thinks of the time his grandparents saw polar bears peeing at the zoo.) There are some beautiful photos linked from the story.

1 comment:

Elli said...

our administrative assistant is crazy about snowflakes & hadn't seen that story yet, so i got brownie points for sending it along :)

my PhD office mate is crazy about polar bears--it comes from doing her dissertation research in NE Greenland. our office was covered in polar bear posters in various languages and stuffed bears... well, beyond the eclogites & softball sized garnets :)