Classifying the six different types of snowflakes
Today’s Video of the Day comes from the EPFL and features a look at the six different classes of snowflakes.
A collaborative team of researchers from the EPFL’s Environmental Remote Sensing Laboratory (LTE) photographed thousands of snowflakes from three different angles using instruments installed at an altitude of 2,500 meters. They used these photos to create an algorithm to recognize the six different classes of snowflakes: small crystals, columnar crystals, planar crystals, combination of columnar and planar crystals, aggregates, and graupels.
“The scientific community has been trying to improve precipitation measurement and forecast for over 50 years. We now have a pretty good understanding of the mechanisms involved in rain,” said Alexis Berne, who led the study. “But snow is a lot more complicated. Many factors – like the shape, geometry and electromagnetic properties of individual snowflakes – affect how snow crystals reflect signals back to weather radars, making our task much harder. And we still don’t have a good grasp of the equivalent liquid water content of snowflakes. Our goal with this study was to better understand exactly what’s falling when it snows, so that we can eventually improve snowfall forecast at high altitudes.”