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Press Release 12-025

The Depths of Winter: How Much Snow Is In Fact On the Ground?

Will lasers and GPS technology finally enable accurate measurement of snowfall?

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Image of a tree-like branched snow crystal.

Stellar dendrites are tree-like snow crystals that have branches upon branches.

Credit: Kenneth Libbrecht, Caltech


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Image of a researcher setting up the equipment to measure how much snow and the crystal type.

How much snow, of whichever crystal type, has fallen? We may soon have an answer.

Credit: NCAR


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Image of a large stellar dendrite crystal.

Stellar dendrite crystals are fairly large, 2-4 millimeters, and easily seen with the naked eye.

Credit: Kenneth Libbrecht, Caltech


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Image of a scientist field-testing new instrumentation to accurately measure snow.

NSF-funded scientists field-test new instrumentation to accurately measure snow.

Credit: NCAR


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Image of a stellar plate snow crystal with ridges pointing to corners between adjacent prism facets.

Stellar plate snow crystals have ridges that point to corners between adjacent prism facets.

Credit: Kenneth Libbrecht, Caltech


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Image of a snowflake with the the plate-like form.

Plate-like snowflakes form when it's near -2 degrees C (or 28 F), or near -15 C (5 F).

Credit: Kenneth Libbrecht, Caltech


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