Monday, January 05, 2009

Flash Facts: Ice Crystal Aggregation

Research into the formation of snowflakes and ice crystals, being produced by scientific experiments worthy of Captain Cold himself, may lead to improved weather forecasting, reports New Scientist. "[This year,] Paul Connolly from the University of Manchester, UK, will study ice crystal aggregation in the Manchester Ice Cloud Chamber. This giant three-storey stainless steel cylinder can be cooled to temperatures as low as -50 °C to simulate the conditions that produce snow... By running experiments at different temperatures, Connolly hopes to see how the speed of growth of the snowflakes changes. Heavier snowflakes fall faster but are difficult to forecast, so this will allow his collaborators at the UK Met Office to better understand the relationship between snowfall and temperature." Visit New Scientist for more in-depth details on how this new generation of ice cloud chambers operates.

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