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 […]

Calculating Data with Excel

In order to calculate data on Heat Flux for the above activities, you need a Heat Flux calculator. The Alaska Lake Ice Observatory Network has developed such a calculator using Excel software. Two calculators are available below, one for snow data taken on frozen lakes, the other for snow data taken on the ground: Snow […]

Calculating Heat Flux

Students in grades 3-12 can collect the data on snow and temperature needed for these calculations. Middle school and high school students can carry out the calculations needed to determine the conductive heat flow. Conductive heat flow (Fa) (also known as heat flux) is a function of: (a) snow temperature gradient (Ts–Tb/Zs); and (b) snow […]

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Heat Flux Through the Snow Cover

Re-read the earlier section on Heat Transfer, paying particular attention to the information on latent heat. Now we are going to examine how latent heat effects the formation of ice. And you (and your students) are going to learn how to measure the amount of heat that is transferred from the ground or the water […]

Heat Flow in Water

So now let’s think about the movement of heat into and out of a body of water (or the ground). Check Your Thinking: What happens to the temperature of a lake over the course of the summer? What causes this to happen?   The reason that the angle of the rays is different in summer […]

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.