03 December 2007


It is snowing outside my window, so I thought I'd share this site I first read about over on the Guild of Scientific Troubadours, even if it's not exactly biology.

The USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center has an Electron Microscopy Unit where they can create SEM images of snowflakes.
That last sentence was a mouthful, but in short, they can see the actual 3D structure of common snow formations, and they are stunning:

I also learned that there are snow classification guidelines, and what I think of as the classic snowflake (pictured above) is a "hexagonal plate with dendritic extensions".

Each snowflake might be unique, but we can classify them. There is even a field guide!

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