You've Never Seen a Snowflake in This Much Detail

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
February 17, 2014; 5:25 AM ET
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As the saying goes, no two snowflakes are exactly alike. Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov's collection of high-resolution magnified flakes makes this widely-held belief more convincing.

The Moscow-based photographer captured dozens of structurally diverse snowflakes, showcasing the complexity of each one against a dull backdrop.

"This year I planned to save current temperature and relative humidity, taken from weather sites with all shooting sessions, but previously I [didn't] do that."

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Shooting at a variety of different conditions is critical to Kljatov's work, as snowflakes form into different shapes depending on temperature and humidity at the time of their formation.

"Snowflakes are merely ice crystals whose shape are determined by the organization the water molecules are in when they freeze," according to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Erik Pindrock.

"Temperature can greatly influence them," Pindrock said.

According to Kenneth G. Libbrecht, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, "snow crystals tend to form simpler shapes when the humidity (supersaturation) is low, while more complex shapes at higher humidities."

Dendrites, the common six-armed shape, form at temperatures between 3 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hollow columns form at 14 to 21 F and needles form at 21 to 25 F.

"It is even possible for a single snowflakes to be a combination of shapes as it moves into different temperatures within a cloud," Pindrock said.

"But with so many variables to influence a single snowflake's design and shape, it is highly unlikely that two large snowflakes would turn out exactly the same."


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Jillian MacMath at macmathj@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Jillian or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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