The snowflake

How are snowflakes formed?

At temperatures from -12°C, water vapour within clouds solidifies around dust particles – known as CONDENSATION CORES OR NUCLEI – contained in the atmosphere and turns into water droplets.

The droplets then band together with other particles and form ICE NUCLEI. This is called a reverse sublimation process.

As the droplets evaporate, they release excess vapour into the air. This vapour is sublimated or transformed into ice, causing the nucleus to grow and form a SNOW CRYSTAL.

Because the crystals continue to grow, their weight increases and eventually they fall to the ground, forming a layer of SNOWFLAKES referred to as SNOWPACK.
Which shape each snow crystal takes depends on the temperature, humidity, wind and currents it encounters on its way to the ground. Snow crystals come in countless different forms, but all of them have one thing in common: their hexagonal or six-sided structure. And yet, each snowflake is unique: There are no two identical ones.

On the ground, the snow forms different layers. From the moment it falls to when it melts, snow undergoes many changes – this is called metamorphism. The many different layers of a snowpack illustrate the history of snowfall during each season.
The snowpack insulates the soil from noise, heat and frost: Near the ground, the temperatures are milder, and the snow forms a warm, protective layer to shelter both plants and animals.

Snow is white because it reflects the light, and the fresher it is, the more it mirrors white light.
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