Snow Resources

A Snow Crystal Primer by Kenneth G. Libbrecht from CalTech: A great introduction to the basic facts about snowflakes and snow crystals. The parent site,, contains additional information and activities on snowflakes, including a Snow Crystal Photo Gallery.

Snowflake Physics at In this interactive activity adapted from, learn about snowflake formation. Explore the molecular structure of ice and learn how the typical six-sided shape of snowflakes is due to the arrangement of water molecules in a hexagonal crystal lattice. Discover how snowflakes form and how different conditions affect their growth and morphology. Includes a background essay and questions for discussion, as well as a downloadable version of the activity.

Illustrated Lessons: Line Symmetry from LINKS Learning: This video tutorial illustrates basic symmetry concepts.

The Bentley Snow Crystal Collection of the Buffalo Museum of Science: Available online, this is a comprehensive collection of photos of snowflakes and snow crystals. Wilson A. Bentley, nick-named “Snowflake Bentley,” spent his life taking photographs of snowflakes.

Why Do Snowflakes Come in So Many Shapes and Sizes? Lesson Plan at : In this in-depth lesson, students build an apparatus that creates conditions similar to a winter cloud and produce their own snow crystals indoors. By watching the snow crystals grow, they learn about the molecular forces that shape ice crystals, and gain a deeper understanding of the states of matter. By exploring media resources, including microphotographs of real snowflakes, students also learn about molecular forces, the particulate nature of matter, and condensation.

Measuring the Temperature of Water, Snow and Ice (pdf): A variety of activities for students of various ages for measuring the temperature of snow and water. You can also view Measuring the Temperature of Water in the Content Map at the left.

NASA Earth Observatory – Climate & Earth’s Energy Budget: Detailed information on the Earth’s energy budget, its relationship to climate change, and much more.

Los Angeles Pierce College Weather Station: Detailed information on the physics of water, the Earth’s water cycle, and the role of water in the Earth’s energy budget.

USGS Water Science for Schools: Information about the distribution of water on Earth.

For supplemental information on types of ice: for lake ice, refer to the Alaska Lake Ice and Snow Observatory Network, for sea-ice, refer to Geophysical Aspects of Sea-Ice Nomenclatures.

Atmospheric Effects on Incoming Solar Radiation from Details on the role of the atmosphere in reflecting sunlight.

Project Learn: Cycles of the Earth and Atmosphere: The goal of LEARN is to increase middle school science teacher knowledge of and interest in the atmospheric sciences. The site has lots of great information on many atmospheric factors (ozone layer, greenhouse effect, etc).

NASA Earth Observatory – Global Albedo: Satellite imagery and information from NASA related to global albedo.

Albedos of snow, ice and tundra page from Photos of a variety of different landscapes and corresponding albedos.

Earth’s Albedo from Meteorology: Understanding the Atmosphere: Includes a simulation that shows variations in albedo at different locations and in different months.

Ice Albedo – Global View from the Goddard Space Flight Center: This is a conceptual animation showing how polar ice reflects light from the sun.

Earth’s Albedo in Decline from the NASA Earth Observatory: Graphic and discussion of changes to the Earth’s albedo.

Earth’s Albedo and Global Warming at From, this interactive activity adapted from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey illustrates the concept of albedo—the measure of how much solar radiation is reflected from Earth’s surface.

Arctic Climate Modeling Program: The research-based Arctic Climate Modeling Program (ACMP) is funded by NSF ITEST. Curriculum based resources were designed with input from 21 scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. Resources include K-12 inquiry-based classroom lessons, a student network for observing arctic weather, digital lectures, and an interactive multimedia learning system (on DVD).

UN Environmental Programme Global Outlook for Ice and Snow: Ice, snow and climate change are closely linked. The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow investigates those linkages. It also presents information on the trends in ice and snow, the outlook for this century and beyond and the consequences to ecosystems and human well-being of these changes. It covers all parts of the cryosphere (the world of ice): snow, land ice, sea ice, river and lake ice, and frozen ground. The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow was written by more than 70 scientists from around the world.

The GLOBE Program: GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. GLOBE’s vision promotes and supports students, teachers and scientists to collaborate on inquiry-based investigations of the environment and the Earth system working in close partnership with NASA and NSF Earth System Science Projects (ESSPs) in study and research about the dynamics of Earth’s environment.

National Snow and Ice Data Center Education Center: Earth is home to snow and ice in many different forms. These frozen realms of the cryosphere influence life all over our planet. Here in the NSIDC Education Center, you will find a range of information about Earth’s snow and ice, from comprehensive “All About” sections to quick facts on popular snow and ice topics.


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The MSP project is funded by an ESEA, Title II Part B Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. MSP was developed by the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and faculty from Montana Tech of The University of Montana and Montana State University, with support from other Montana University System Faculty.