While we’re able to watch the mesmerising formation of snowflakes here in Vyacheslav Ivanov’s time-lapse video, the science behind this stunning phenomenon remains somewhat a mystery.
When tiny droplets of water vapour condense on particles in the air, the vapour is transformed into a slow-growing crystal, which becomes a snowflake.
You’ll notice that as the flakes form, each arm of the six-pronged structures is generally symmetrical, a phenomenon known as six-fold radial symmetry.
While the initial steps of snowflake formation are pretty well established, tiny changes to environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity can completely change the way a snowflake looks.
Elaborate, branched snowflakes, like those seen in Ivanov’s video, grow in conditions of high humidity around -15 ºC, while column structures develop at around -6 ºC.
Jana Howden completed a double degree in Arts and Science at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
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