Physics of falling snowflakes


Snowflakes differ from each other: based on weather in which they form, change dimensions, densityThe reason crystals from the ice. Still snowflakes they fall it’s surprising similar. Scientists from the University of Utah came to this conclusion after analysis half a million of snowflakes falling near Salt Lake City. The result he left behind without explanation the experimenters themselves who will now – they say – seek to understand more.

How does a snowflake fall?

A falling snowflake is a accelerated movement, but it certainly cannot be defined as simple. It is determined, as with any other body, according to seriousness AND air frictionbut due to the peculiarities of the object, it is also affected by it turbulence when descending. So much so that it’s difficult to predict between the wobbling and wobbling its speed and acceleration.

However, studying the movement of snowflakes is important because it can impact the models precipitation forecast and on models climate.

Universal pattern

For this reason, Dhiraj Singh and his colleagues built a device consisting of za laserone Hot plate and various cameras, to measure the weight, size and density of fallen snowflakes from Utah. When a snowflake passes through the laser, it blocks the light, and the way it does so can be deduced Speed andaccelerationwhereas from the way it evaporates on a heated plate, we can infer na Mass and density.

Despite the extreme variety the size and density of the snowflakes and the conditions (more or less strong disturbances) in which they were generated, and put together all the data that the authors of the research discovered – in their amazement – a universal behavior when these ice crystals fall. The acceleration and terminal velocity of each flake fell into the same statistical modelplotting the Laplace distribution.

The reason such behavior – the authors admit – unclear: both such irregular shapes and different atmospheric conditions can describe such a statistical pattern simple? All that remains – they add – is to continue the study, to build more accurate measuring equipment to obtain more detailed data.


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