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 [...]

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Snow Glossary

Absorption Albedo Atmosphere Biosphere Cryosphere Density Earth’s Energy Budget Equi-temperature Metamorphosis Hydrosphere Ice Albedo Feedback Loop Infrared Radiation Insulator Lithosphere Reflection Reflection Symmetry Rotational Symmetry Snow Thermal Conductivity Solar Radiation Symmetry Temperature Gradient Metamorphosis Transect

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Extension Activities

There are many opportunities to extend and expand the activities listed in this module. Several examples are listed below. Extension 1 Symmetry Activity: Have students examine a number of objects in the classroom, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, to determine how many lines or planes of symmetry can be found in each. Extension 2 Symmetry Activity: [...]

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The Science of Ice Freeze-up & Break-up

Everyone who has lived in the northern U.S. has observed the phenomenon known as freeze-up and break-up on local rivers, streams, and lakes. What causes a river or lake to freeze-up in the fall? What causes a river or lake to melt out (break-up) in the spring? Have the dates of freeze-up and break-up changed [...]

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The Impact of Global Climate Change on Snow & Ice

For the “state of the art” summary of ice, snow and global change, download the UN Environmental Programme Global Outlook for Ice and Snow. This 227-page document is an excellent summary of the research on ice, snow, and global climate change. Read at least the 18-page Highlights section. This summary of scientific research provides the [...]

The Role of Snow & Ice in Regulating Climate

Check Your Thinking: So now that you know quite a bit about ice, snow, and water, can you explain how snow and ice help to regulate global climate?   The atmosphere, water, snow, and ice work together to help keep the global temperature within a range that will support life. More importantly, these factors keep [...]


Check Your Thinking: How does the capacity of snow and ice to reflect sunlight impact the Earth’s energy budget?   Albedo is a measurement that indicates the amount of reflection of solar radiation by an object. Latin comes into play again here. Albus is Latin for white, which you will recognize from the English word [...]

Absorption & Reflection of Energy

Now, let’s think about absorption and reflection in relationship to Earth’s systems and the energy budget. The components of Earth’s systems (air, water, land, and living things) reflect and absorb solar radiation in ways that moderate the global energy budget. A simple activity that you may have done with your students is to place different [...]

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Properties of Water

Water can exist in any one of three states: solid (ice), liquid (water), and gas (water vapor). Fresh water has a maximum density at around 4°C: 1 g cm3 (also can be stated as: 1 g ml-1, 1 kg liter-1, 1000 kg m3, or 1 tonne m3). Water is the only substance where the maximum [...]

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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.