Monday, April 2, 2018

NASA Develops First-Ever Melting Snowflake Model

Article Written By: Juliana Zadarko


Image credit: Free-Photos

New 3D modelling technology combined with research relating to melting behaviours has allowed NASA scientists to develop the first 3D model of a single snowflake melting. Understanding how snow melts can help scientists identify heavier, wetter snow in radar signals and prevent the hazards associated with this type of snow.

Imitating key features observed in nature, the meltwater first gathers in concave regions of the snowflake surface. As the regions become larger, they then combine to surround an ice core, and finally develop into a water drop. Due to heat in the surrounding air, extremities of the snowflake are the first to melt.

A distinctly bright layer in radar profiles depicts the altitude where falling snow and hail melt. While simple models are able to reproduce this layer, more advanced models give insight into the type of melting snow and the radar wavelengths used in observation. "The reasons for this layer are still not particularly clear, and there has been a bit of debate in the community," explains Jussi Leinonen of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

View the 3d model at:

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