The Fragile Ice
The first of two Web Seminars on the topic of Fragile
Ice was held on Tuesday, January 16, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.
The presenter was Dr. Mary Albert, Senior Research Engineer, at the Cold Regions
Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire. The seminar focused
on the clues to past weather that can be found on snow packs.
Fifty (50) participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff.
Participating educators represented the states of Arkansas, California, Colorado,
Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey,
New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina,
Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Some of the participants attended the symposium
on the same topic at the Area Conference in Salt Lake City, UT.
In this presentation educators had the opportunity to learn about the clues to past
weather that can be found on snow packs. To understand these clues, one must first
understand the changes that take place on the shape of snow crystals over time,
after colder and warmer events. Dr. Albert started the presentation talking about
snow crystals and the ways they change their shapes. The initial shape of snow crystals
depends on the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. Layers of snow on the
ground are a combination of different depositional events and they provide evidence
about different snow (or rain) storms. After the snow crystals are on the ground
for some time, they change shape due to metamorphism. Some crystals get rounded
after experiencing warmer conditions. Dr. Albert shared with the participants several
images of snow crystals taken with an electron microscope over a period of time
that show the rounding and changing shape of the crystals.
Dr. Albert finished the presentation showing data from a snow pack she studied found
in the backyard of her house in Vermont. Her snow pack experiment was an excellent
model for an activity teachers in cold regions of the country can replicate with
their students in the classroom. At the end of the seminar all participants received
a copy of NSTA's SciGuide about the Effects of Oceans on Weather and Climate, grades
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
"Snow is something that we have plenty of so I will be able to use it as a learning
"I teach Earth Science, and meteorology is part of this. Snow behavior and its characteristics
is quite relevant in my snowy home state of Wisconsin - this information is relevant
to my students!"
"Some of my students are studying glaciers and the background information on ice
crystal shapes will be quite useful."
"I can use this in my meteorology and geology classes. It was very helpful to find
out about the sources available."
Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions,
and a job well done!
Web Seminar I Resources
See a recorded version of the Web Seminar.
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Underwritten in part by NSF, NASA, and NOAA.