Snow pertains to frozen crystalline water throughout its life cycle, starting when it precipitates from clouds and accumulates on surfaces, then metamorphoses in place, and ultimately melts, slides or sublimates away. Snowstorms organize and develop by feeding on sources of atmospheric moisture and cold air. Snowflakes nucleate around particles in the atmosphere by attracting supercooled water droplets, which freeze in hexagonal-shaped crystals. Snowflakes take on a variety of shapes, basic among these are platelets, needles, columns and rime. As snow accumulates into a snowpack, it may blow into drifts. Over time, accumulated snow metamorphoses, by sintering, sublimation and freeze-thaw. Where the climate is cold enough for year-to-year accumulation, a glacier may form. Otherwise, snow typically melts, seasonally, and causes runoff into streams and rivers and recharging groundwater. Major snow-prone areas include the Arctic and Antarctica, the upper half of the Northern Hemisphere, and alpine regions.
Snow affects such human activities as transportation: creating the need for keeping roadways, wings, and windows clear; agriculture: providing water to crops and safeguarding livestock, and such sports as skiing, snowboarding, and snowmachine travel. Snow affects ecosystems, as well, by providing an insulating layer during winter under which plants and animals are able to survive the cold.
Here are seven snow-y pictrures for all you snow lovers out there!