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Snow

January 3, 2013
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(c) MMD

It’s been a relatively snowless winter around here, which always makes me sad. We could really use the moisture after last year’s drought, of course, but I also just plain love snow. I was one of the people who was thrilled a few years back when “snowpocalypse” hit (the picture was the view from our front steps after one of the storms). I just can’t get enough of the stuff.

I was reading an article in the latest National Geographic about microbes, and came across an interesting fact. Apparently, microorganisms might help snowflakes form by acting as a nucleator for precipitation to crystallize around. A Louisiana State University researcher named Brent Christner found that microbes act as great ice nucleators, and in fact are the most efficient nucleators found in snow. As the article puts it: “That’s right — snow is literally alive.”

Just another reason to like snow! It’s part of the amazing biodiversity that’s all around us, and that shows up in unexpected places.

Wolfe, Nathan. 2013. Small World. National Geographic Magazine, pp. 135-147.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. M.S. Harris permalink
    January 4, 2013 1:26 am

    Neat article about snow! Do you know any good websites that help identify animal tracks in snow? It’s hard to tell the raccoon tracks from those of foxes or the deer or whatever else trots around our house at night.

  2. January 5, 2013 7:21 pm

    I don’t really know of any websites, although there are some good field guides out there. I did a quick web search, and found that the Ohio DNR has a page on ID’ing tracks in the snow — most should be relevant to Indiana, too, of course!

    http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/19449/default.aspx

    • M.S. Harris permalink
      January 6, 2013 12:51 am

      Thanks, that Ohio DNR page looks helpful, especially in that it notes the size of the tracks since some can look alike. And it includes all the animals likely to be padding around our house. Much appreciation for hunting down the site.

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