Snowflakes photographed by new highspeed camera
Wind narrator ever since the victorian era, snowflakes have been revered as perfectly symmetrical sixsided crystals.Believed to be as perfect and pure as the heavens from which they descend.But what if this divine image justmelted away music it's 1885 in vermont's wintry terrain.20yearold wilson bentley is fascinated by snowflakes.So he attaches a camera to his parents' microscope to capture a photo of one.After countless attempts, he finally gets a clear picture.Thousands of pictures later and bentley's collection is dominated by what comes to be our iconic view of snowflakes.
Each perfectly symmetrical yet unique.Bentley even coins the phrase no two snowflakes are alike.Across the atlantic, german meteorologist gustav hellmann and his associate richard neuhauss are photographing snowflakes as well.However their photos reveal something entirely different.While each snowflake is unique, many are irregularly shaped.Imperfect.It's said that hellmann accused bentley of altering certain photos.Bentley countered that any alterations were to remove dust particles or debris from the snowflake photo to show the flake as true to nature as possible.It's now present day in the snowy mountains of utah.
An area that thrives on winter tourism.It's here that nsffunded engineer cale fallgatter and atmospheric scientist tim garrett have revolutionized the process of capturing photos of snowflakes.To better study their fleeting existence.Predicting how winter storms will affect us depends on how we measure what falls out of them.But current methods are imprecise.Fallgatter and garrett have developed a highspeed camera system specifically designed to provide the clearest pictures ever of freefalling snowflakes.They call their system the present weather imager, the pwi.Composed of a single industrial grade 1.3 megapixel.
Camera and a built in computer, the pwi uses an infrared motion sensor to photograph single snowflakes as small as 100 micrometers.A fleeting moment in time exists to gather data on a single snowflake.In the cloudstoo soon.On the groundand it's too late.So the pwi doesn't isolate or disturb the snowflakes.It waits for the perfect time, photographing them as they fall to the ground.Midair.Unaltered.Providing data on a snowflake's size, shape, orientation and even the speed at which it falls.And if researchers understand all of thisthey can determine exactly what type of.
Snow formed in the clouds above.Snowflakes have brief but complicated lives.They start when a supercooled water droplet freezes around a speck of dust.This process alone results in wilson bentley's famous sixsided crystal.But it's difficult to discover one of these on the ground because as a snowflake falls, it collides and freezes with other water droplets.A process known as riming, resulting in a little ice pellet called a graupel the hard packing snow.If a snowflake manages to dodge these water droplets, it will likely later collide with other snowflakes to form something.
Entirely different.An aggregate the light fluffy snow.So the pwi present weather imager photographs falling precipitation and then classifies every single photo.Aggregate, graupel, sleet, ice, rain.Each type of precipitation affects road conditions differently.Projecting these, especially around the freezing point, is a current problem.But with the pwi's data, local transportation departments could issue better weather warnings.With the potential to save lives.The pwi also captures nature in its purest form.Common among snowflake photographers, bentley hand selected the most attractive snowflakes to photograph and rejected those less photogenic.
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