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K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Chapter 1: The Inside Scoop on Snow................................ 7 Chapter 2: H eat Waves and Hot Spells..............................25 Chapter 3: The Wonderful World of Wind..........................41 Chapter 4: Earth’s Mysterious Ocean Weather...................55 Series Glossary of Key Terms. .........................................72 Further Reading and Internet Resources..........................74 Organizations to Contact................................................76 Index . ..........................................................................77 Author’s Biography and Photo Credits. ............................80 Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.


ambient: existing or present on all sides; an aspect of the environment that completely surrounds a person astaxanthin: a red pigment that belongs to the carotenoid family, which gives algae a pink pigment and salmon its pink-red color cryophilic: growing best at low temperatures dendritic: in a branching form, like a tree or a nerve cell fluctuations: an irregular change in the level, strength, or value of something translucent: permitting light to pass through, but concealing the objects or scenery on the opposite side



It is never too cold to snow. At super frigid temperatures of -20°F (-29°C), it can still snow, but not much will fall. What is the perfect recipe for snow? The ingredients are moisture-saturated air, sufficient lifting of the saturated air into colder air to allow snow to develop, and an ambient temperature ideally above 15°F (-9.4°C). When these three ingredients are present, heavy snowfalls happen. Usually the air temperature near the ground is relatively warm. When temperatures drop below 15°F (-9.4°C), it is still cold enough to snow, but the air is generally too dry because the air capacity for holding water becomes minimal. Snow is not white. In fact, snow is translucent , and the light reflecting off it makes it appear white. The multiple crystals in the snowflake help scatter light in all directions, which diffuses the color spectrum so that only white is visible. Snow can be other colors as well. Dust and pollution in the air can cause snow to look dirty, and certain cryophilic freshwater algae can color snow blue, orange, or even black! For example, certain algae contain astaxanthin , a chemical which causes the


snow to look pink, thus the name watermelon snow . This pink snow was even mentioned in the early writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle. In 2020, the “pink invader” caused problems for Italy’s massive Presena alpine glacier. The algae did not directly damage the glacier, but it did make the glacier’s surface darker. As a result, the glacier absorbed more sunlight, and its melting rapidly increased. Watermelon snow is also called blood snow , and it occurs during the summer in Antarctica. The ice around the Vernadsky Research Base located on Galindez Island was covered in blood snow in 2020. The red-pigmented algae species Chlamydomonas nivalis was responsible. These algae love freezing water and are dormant in the ice and snow during winter. When the snow melts in summer, the algae bloom and spread their red spores. The red color comes from pigmented carotenoids, the same pigments that are in carrots and pumpkins. For the algae, the pigments are protective, shielding them from ultraviolet light and lowering the risk of genetic mutations. Snowflake Shapes Scientists say that there are indeed no two snowflakes that are completely alike. Many factors determine the shape of a snowflake, and the air temperature around the forming snowflake is one. Long needlelike structures form around 28°F (-2°C), and in lower temperatures, below 23°F (-5°C), they form into very flat crystals that look like dinner plates. Temperature fluctuations occur as the snowflake falls, and these changes further shape the crystals. The snowflake first forms around a single particle—like a speck of dust or pollen—and all snowflakes have six arms, called a dendritic structure. Scientists have cataloged over thirty-five different variations of snowflakes: column, plane, rimed, irregular, and combinations of these. Snowflakes can grow as large as 15 inches when temperatures are much colder!


The New Weather: Amazing Weather Facts

This picture represents an excellent example of watermelon snow, or blood snow. The red areas are caused by algae in bloom in the Antarctic summer.


The Inside Scoop on Snow

For years, scientists have been trying to solve the mystery of the triangular crystals that can sometimes form instead of the six-sided snowflake. In 2009, one scientist solved the mystery. It seems that when the six sides are not symmetric when they begin forming, the snowflake wobbles as it falls through the air. The sides that hit the fast air first will grow larger, thus forming a triangle. Some snowflakes look like sewing needles, while others look like spools of thread or hourglasses. The shape is determined not only by temperature, but by how they form and how they fall. Asymmetrical snowflakes are actually much more common than the perfect six-sided forms. Most snowflakes travel from cloud to ground in about one hour, but there are times when snow can fall much more quickly. In fact, snow can fall at 9 mph (14 kph), depending on the environmental

Snowflakes typically have six sides and form in a dendritic structure.


The New Weather: Amazing Weather Facts

The largest snowfalls of all time have been over 100 inches.

conditions and whether the snowflakes are gathering water as they fall. How much water does it take to make snow? As it turns out, not much. In fact, an inch (2.54 cm) of rain can make 10 inches (25.4 cm) of snow. What are some of the greatest snowfalls of all time? In one year, from 1971 to 1972, Mount Rainier in Washington State had 102 feet (31.5 meters) of snow. Capracotta, Italy, experienced over 100 inches (2.56 cm) of snowfall in a 24-hour period in March 2015. For many years, there has been argument over which US snow event holds the world record for 24-hour snowfall. In 1921, 75.8 inches (192.5 cm) fell at Silver Lake, Colorado. New Yorkers say their state holds the record: a 77 inch (195.6 cm) snowfall occurred in 1997 in Montague, New York. In 1963, 78 inches of snow fell in one day in a remote area of Alaska near the Richardson Highway.


The Inside Scoop on Snow

Snow, Snow, and More Snow! Many types of snow exist. Graupel is one form. When snowflakes fall through a cloud that contains supercooled water droplets, the snowflakes are already formed or forming and the water droplets freeze onto the snowflake to create lumpy balls of ice pellets. Hoarfrost describes the spiky frost sometimes seen on windows. Hoar means “ancient,” and the frost is named after an old man’s bushy beard. When water vapor instantly freezes on a cold surface, hoarfrost forms. The air moisture skips the liquid phase and transforms from vapor to solid, a chemical process called sublimation . Hoarfrost is usually seen on fence wires, plant stems, and tree branches. Needle ice is seen in an upright formation in wet areas when the soil temperature is warmer than the very cold air. Underground water is pulled up to the surface by capillary action, which then freezes and contributes to a growing needlelike ice column. Farmers and people who live in snowy conditions have developed many names to describe different forms of snow. Coarse, granular snow is called corn snow , and it forms by melting and refreezing. Lake-effect snow is produced when icy winds move across a body of warm lake water. This type of abundant, heavy snow is very common in the US Great Lakes region (Montague, New York, is located in this area). A polycrystal refers to several snowflakes that merge to form a large, massive snowflake. And what is snirt ? You guessed it—snow mixed with dirt. A snowdrift refers to snow on the ground that has blown to a greater height than the snowfall. A barchan is a snowdrift shaped like a horseshoe. Firn refers to snow that is more than a year old, and perennial snow has remained on the ground for more than a year. A ground blizzard has no new snowfall, but strong winds lift existing snow off the ground and reduce visibility. Rime refers to snowflakes that are coated with tiny frozen water droplets, smaller than graupel. Powder is what most


The New Weather: Amazing Weather Facts

This is an incredible example of hoarfrost that formed on this wire fence. Notice the crystal patterns.

people think of when they think of snow—loose, newly fallen crystals.

Sastrugi are wind-driven, irregular grooves that form in snow. Mostly found in polar regions, grains of snow bind together in a strong wind and freeze to form beautiful solid ridges that are further sculpted by the wind. Sastrugi comes from the Russian word zastrugi , meaning “small ridges.” These formations develop in the same way as desert sand dunes and can cover land, ocean ice, or lake ice. Trekkers and sledders, however, say that despite the beauty of sastrugi, the formations are hard to navigate and are quite often referred to as nature’s speed bumps . Snow megadunes are similar to sastrugi, but are much larger snow structures that form in Antarctica. Scientists did not even


The Inside Scoop on Snow

know about them until they were seen on satellite images, in which they can resemble large fingerprints. The patterns are not visible from the ground, but wave forms are present in the snow. Megadunes can be 26 feet (8 m) high and 4 miles (6 km) across. They form quite differently than sand dunes in the desert. Air that moves downhill is called a katabatic wind , and megadunes form in these steady, continuous winds. The dunes form slowly, very much like maple syrup running off a pancake. One side of the dune is icy, almost like glass. The other side of the dune is a wavelike structure of snow. Although beautiful, scientists who have explored them say the megadune surface is very rough, like sandpaper. Sun cups are hollowed-out bowls in the snow. Sun cups can form during snowmelt in several ways. As the solar radiation hits the surface on a bright sunny day, the sun cup can form because

These breathtaking snow formations are called sastrugi. They are formed by wind patterns that blow across the snow.


The New Weather: Amazing Weather Facts

Notice the sun cup that formed to the left of the lake in this picture. The snowmelt in New Zealand causes the snow in the bowl to be insulated. Therefore, it does not melt as fast as the snow around the lake. There is a smaller sun cup pictured, too. Do you see it?

the ground is lower in that area, and because the snow serves as an insulator. Sun cups may also form as dirty snow melts away during windy conditions; snow particles accumulate on the crests of the ridge and insulate the snow in the bowl. Snow is comprised of about 95 percent trapped air. The air makes the snow an insulator, which is the reason animals hibernate by burrowing deep into the snow. The collared lemming is one such mammal, which has adapted to the Arctic by burrowing under the snow and creating a tunnel network of nesting areas. This lemming only lives in the Arctic tundra. During the winter, the animals move to areas of heavy snow. During the summer, they live in the high tundra areas and eat summer grasses. Humans have used this same


The Inside Scoop on Snow


If you spend too much time in the snow, you could develop a disorder called piblokto or Arctic hysteria . Inuit people living in the Arctic Circle area are affected by this anecdotal disorder, most commonly during the long Arctic nights. Symptoms include verbally repeating meaningless words or performing dangerous and daring acts. The person often then has amnesia and does not remember the event. The condition is not limited to indigenous people, but can affect anyone living within the Arctic Circle. Doctors think that a lack of sunshine and vitamin A toxicity may explain the disorder. Are you afraid of snow? Some people have a psychological condition called chionophobia, a fear of snow. The word is derived from chion, the Greek word for “snow.” People who develop the condition often experience a traumatic childhood event involving snow, such as an accident, or perhaps being trapped in snow.


The New Weather: Amazing Weather Facts

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