Konstantin Shkurko

# The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera

#### Abstract

We introduce a new instrument called the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC). The MASC provides 10 to 40 μm resolution stereoscopic images of individual hydrometeors in freefall, while simultaneously measuring their fallspeed. Previously, manual photography of hydrometeors required collection on a flat surface, a process that is somewhat subjective and remarkably finicky due to the fragile nature of the particles. By contrast, the MASC is fully automated, and uses a sensitive IR trigger so that no physical contact is necessary. Field measurements at Alta and Mammoth are showing an extraordinary variety of hydrometeor forms. The MASC has many potential applications. We highlight three current projects: 1) improving understanding of the size-fallspeed relationships that are used to characterize precipitation in Doppler radar retrievals and numerical weather prediction models, 2) identifying weak crystals that form failure layers in avalanches during storms, and 3) using MASC measurements in conjunction with a scanning terrestrial LiDAR to estimate precipitation rates during storms.

Paper (pdf, 1.19 MB)
Publisher's Version

#### Description

We are extremely fortunate to have our project mentioned in quite a few avenues and the response seems to have been rather overwhelming. Below are some of the links to the published articles. There seem to be some international articles as well, which have been omitted from this list.

##### Birth of a Snowflake!

See video:Weather.com

##### The Great White Lie: What Snowflakes Really Look Like

When Bing Crosby dreamed of a white Christmas, chances are he imagined one fashioned by flurries of perfect, six-sided snowflakes. This image of what a snowflake looks like has become ubiquitous. It is found on everything from cards and woolly jumpers to shop windows during the festive season. So you may be surprised to discover that the vast majority of snowflakes look nothing like this.

The classic image of a snowflake can be traced back to home-schooled farmer Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley of Vermont. When he was 15, he started peering down his mother's microscope. "Always, from the very beginning, it was snowflakes that fascinated me most," he later said. Bentley eventually persuaded his parents to get a camera and hooked it up to the microscope. In 1885, after much trial and error, he finally managed to take a decent photograph of a snowflake. His hobby was to become a lifelong obsession, and he went on to take thousands of photos. ...

##### Falling Snowflakes Captured in 3D

Snowflakes have been something we've marveled at for centuries. The idea that no two are exactly alike, the way that some are good for snowballs and others are not, and the way that they are formed have always been topics of interest. Now a team at University of Utah, lead by atmospheric scientist Tim Garret, have created a super high speed camera set that can take 3D images of snowflakes in mid-air. The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC) is triggered by infrared sensors to capture snowflakes as they fall from the sky and can capture thousands of images each night. ...

##### A Snowflake's Significance

Tim Garrett and a friend went skiing one day during a Washington snowstorm. They were sitting on the ski lift when the friend, a meteorologist, pointed out how abruptly the snowflakes that were landing on their ski clothes changed shape and size. Garrett, who was then a graduate student in atmospheric physics at the University of Washington, hadn't thought much before about the crystals' variations. But the moment of realization stuck with him in the following days. "I remember being on the lift and thinking how cool, how great it would be to study snowflakes in a ski resort," says Garrett, who is now an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah. ...

##### Could Snowflakes Revolutionize Weather Forecasts?

When it snows in Utah, Tim Garrett likes to watch the storm. He looks outside, watching the blurry mess of white fill the window, the Wasatch Mountains in the background. But he also looks at his computer screen, where he sees a live feed of photographs of tiny, individual snowflakes, each shot from three different angles as it makes its way to the ground. ...

##### UW alum seeks to forecast perfect ski day through 3D snowflake photos

An Atmospheric Sciences professor at the University of Utah, who also holds a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington, is seeking to improve global snow forecasting through the simple act of taking photographs of snowflakes. ...

##### Custom cameras catch weather clues, beauty in Utah snowflakes

They say every snowflake is unique. University of Utah researchers test that theory every time it snows at Alta Ski Area in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Multi-Angle Snowflake Cameras - constructed at the U. and now being provided to other weather-related researchers - placed at Alta automatically kick on when snow starts to fall and record images until it stops. ...

##### Snowflakes Falling on Cameras

University of Utah researchers developed a high-speed camera system that spent the past two winters photographing snowflakes in 3-D as they fell - and they don't look much like those perfect-but-rare snowflakes often seen in photos.

"Until our device, there was no good instrument for automatically photographing the shapes and sizes of snowflakes in free-fall," says Tim Garrett, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences. "We are photographing these snowflakes completely untouched by any device, as they exist naturally in the air." ...

##### Picture This

The study of snow is nothing new. Avalanche forecasters have been analyzing the intricate crystals for decades and modern atmospheric scientists have been tracking the frozen precipitation for just as long. But it's a dynamic and temperamental medium that changes so quickly that even the most accurate weather model isn't always that accurate. ...

##### 3-D camera captures snowflakes in freefall

A new high-speed camera perched in the mountains of Utah's Alta Ski Area has revealed what snowflakes look like as they fall in mid-air.

On the eve of Thursday's winter storm warning for the Greater Toronto Area, this ground-breaking research into snowflake size and shape may contribute to more accurate snowfall predictions by showing they affect snowpack density. ...

##### The Road from R&D to Commercialization

Technology transfer programs in the US and abroad are champions to entrepreneurship, offering an effective model of how to turn ideas and innovation in photonics into commercial success.

When US legislators formed NASA in the late 1950s, exploring space and landing a man on the moon were not its only missions. In a burst of foresight and efficiency (a quality not often attributed to today's Congress), they specified another mission: that any innovation engendered by the space program be captured, recorded, patented and made useful down on Earth. Thus began the era of technology transfer. ...

##### Scientists capture snowflakes in 3D to improve storm models

There are plenty of incredible macro shots of settled snowflakes, captured milliseconds before they diminish and melt. But a team of atmospheric scientists has now documented them in freefall using a Nasa and army-funded camera, in order to gather data that will help improve radar activity during snowstorms and give better forecasts. ...

##### High-speed camera system catches close-ups of snowflakes in mid-air

Falling snow can play havoc with radar systems, so the more that we know about the manner in which snow falls, the better that those systems can be equipped to compensate for it. That's why for the past three years, researchers from the University of Utah have been developing a device known as the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera - or MASC. Using three cameras and two motion sensors, it captures 3D photos of snowflakes in free-fall. ...

##### Crystallizing Opinion

The report said, "The wrong type of snow..." covered the railroad tracks, and it was too powdery to be easily cleared. This was how British Rail famously excused a long week of disruptions to train service in February 1991. Angry commuters were unsympathetic: it smacked of the absurd to use snowflakes as a scapegoat.

Public opinion aside, accurately forecasting snowflake type is in fact a genuine meteorological challenge. Very often, numerical weather models fail to provide accurate forecasts of snowfall accumulation precisely because they misdiagnose the wide variety of frozen hydrometeors that fall from the sky. Slight adjustments to how snowflakes are created in the models make for large differences in where simulated snow lands, and whether it descends as gentle flurries or as a fully fledged blizzard. ...

##### Unique photography rig captures snowflakes in mid-flight

They say no two snowflakes look the same - well, scientists at the University of Utah aren't going to take that for granted. They've devised a photography rig that can take detailed photos and measurements of thousands of snowflakes in a single night. ...

##### Cameras Capture Falling Snowflakes in 3D

A gadget that can snap photos of individual snowflakes in freefall could lead to more accurate weather predictions.

Researchers at the University of Utah have developed the Multi Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC), which uses three high-speed cameras triggered by infrared sensors to shoot flakes as they float to the ground, with exposures as quick as 1/25000 of a second. The device also measures the flakes' fall speed, all without touching them, which would disturb the measurements. ...

##### Automatic 3D Snowflake Camera: Find Out For Yourself If No Two Are Alike

A few weeks ago we challenged you to decipher a black and white image full of seemingly random white blobs. They turned out to be clumps of snowflakes photographed as they fell to the ground, and the amazing camera that captured those images can now be yours - if you have deep enough pockets. ...

##### The high tech camera that can snap snowflakes in 3D as they fall - and could help forecasters better predict blizzards

A high-tech new camera can snap individual snowflakes in three-dimensions as they are in freefall - and could lead to more accurate weather predictions.

The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC), developed by researchers at the University of Utah, uses three high-speed cameras triggered by infra-red sensors to capture snow flakes as they float by. ...

##### High Speed Cameras Capture Falling Snowflakes in 3D

There's no denying, there's something absolutely mesmerizing about snowflakes. We've all marveled at photos of snowflakes under the microscope and intricate snow crystals made in the lab and we've filled in you in on the chemistry behind those beautiful formations, but scientists at the University of Utah have developed a way to show us snowflakes like we haven't seen them before: in 3D. ...

##### Alta is for Science: Utah Ski Area Hosts Cutting-Edge Snow Science Research Technology

That's right. "Alta is for Skiers" is no longer the area's only calling card... and if you ask long-time Alta avalanche forecaster Daniel Howlett, better known as "Howie," the area has been defined by more than just skiing for quite some time. In fact, one could surmise that snow science has been as integral to the community as bubbles are to beer since 1885, when a catastrophic avalanche nearly destroyed the entire mining township of Alta, Utah. Since the early days of Alf Engen, who founded Alta Ski Area in 1935, many a powderhound-turned-snow-scientist has gained his avalanche bearings within the steep recesses of Little Cottonwood Canyon. The list includes Edward LaChapelle, Ed Adams, and Ethan Greene, just to name a few. ...

##### New Camera at Alta Captures the World's First Images of Snowflakes in Flight

Ever since it became a ski area in 1939, Alta, Utah, has been the world's premier think tank on powder snow. It's where Alf Engen showed the world how to ski it, and where Monty Atwater and Ed LaChapelle developed the science of it. It's where Lee Cohen and Scott Markewitz captured the joy of getting barreled in it. And where Chad Zurinskas spurred an entire movement by deciding to jump over it between mine tailings. ...

Read More:Poweder Magazine, 2012 Photo Annual

#### BibTeX

@inproceedings{garrettmulti2012,   title     = {The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera},   abstract  = {We introduce a new instrument called the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC). The MASC provides 10 to 40 $\mu$m resolution stereoscopic images of individual hydrometeors in freefall, while simultaneously measuring their fallspeed. Previously, manual photography of hydrometeors required collection on a flat surface, a process that is somewhat subjective and remarkably finicky due to the fragile nature of the particles. By contrast, the MASC is fully automated, and uses a sensitive IR trigger so that no physical contact is necessary. Field measurements at Alta and Mammoth are showing an extraordinary variety of hydrometeor forms. The MASC has many potential applications. We highlight three current projects: 1) improving understanding of the size-fallspeed relationships that are used to characterize precipitation in Doppler radar retrievals and numerical weather prediction models, 2) identifying weak crystals that form failure layers in avalanches during storms, and 3) using MASC measurements in conjunction with a scanning terrestrial LiDAR to estimate  precipitation rates during storms.},   author    = {Garrett, Timothy J. and Bair, Edward H. and Fallgatter, Cale J. and Shkurko, Konstantin and Davis, Robert E. and Howlett, Daniel},   booktitle = {2012 International Snow Science Workshop - ISSW '12},   address   = {Anchorage, Alaska, USA},   month     = {September},   year      = {2012}}

Updated: 09.16.12 © Konstantin Shkurko, 2010 - validate css, html