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Native Pathways to Education
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Observing Snow


Multiple Choice:

1. Which state of matter has the least amount of energy?
a. Solid
b. Liquid
c. Gas
2. Evaporation is the process by which a:
a. Liquid turns to a solid
b. Liquid turns to a gas
c. Gas turns to a liquid
d. Solid turns to a liquid
3. Cloud formation is caused by what process:
a. Evaporation
b. Infiltration
c. Surface Runoff
d. Condensation
4. Snowflakes are composed of:
a. One or more ice crystals
b. A collection of many individual pieces of dust
c. Crystals which are always shaped like perfect stars
5. Crystals are:
a. Made up of many different kinds of molecules throughout
b. Composed of only one kind of molecule throughout
c. Impossible to create
6. Destructive Metamorphism is the process where snow crystals change due to:
a. The breaking of the delicate snow crystals due to their own molecular
movement and pressure from the snowpack.
b. A strong temperature gradient within the snowpack.
c. The recrystallization of water vapor as it moves through the snowpack.
d. Sublimation
7. During the coldest days of winter the temperature gradient you are most likely to
find in the snowpack:
a. Is impossible to determine within the snowpack
b. Equals temperatures throughout the snowpack.
c. Has cold temperature at the bottom of the snowpack and warmer
temperatures at the top.
d. Has warmer temperatures at the bottom of the snowpack and the coldest
temperatures at the top
8. Once snowflakes fall to the ground and become part of the snowpack:
a. They do not change at all
b. Scientists are unsure what happens to snowflakes once they reach the
c. They undergo many changes
d. They immediately melt and infiltrate into the ground water

Fill in the Blanks:

1. Define the following: Depth Hoar__________________________


2. List two components, which are essential to the formation of an ice crystal:


3. Under what kind of conditions does a Stellar Crystal form?


4. What two types of crystals form in high cirrus clouds with low moisture and colder temperatures?


5. What is sublimation?


6. What are the two major factors that influence snow on the ground?


7. Define Destructive Metamorphism. Does it depend on a temperature gradient?


8.What is Depth Hoar and where is it typically found in the snow pack?


Part III. Essay

To survive the harsh climate of Alaska, animals and plants have developed physical and/or behavioral adaptations to the cold, snowy winter environment. Write a paragraph describing an observation you have made or something you have learned about how a plant or animal has adapted to interior Alaska's winter climate.

find in the snowpack:
a. Is impossible to determine within the snow pack.
b. Equals temperatures throughout the snowpack.


Ablation: Any process by which a glacier loses mass including melt, evaporation, sublimation, and calving.

Accumulation Zone: The portion of a glacier situated below the equilibrium line where ice and snow melt exceed snow accumulation.

Advancing Glacier: A glacier where the accumulation zone is growing faster than the melting in the ablation zone. The net result is that the glacier is gaining mass.

Brittle Deformation: The fracturing of surface features of an ice mass resulting from the ice traveling rapidly or over extreme terrain. A crevasse is a good example of brittle deformation.

Basal Sliding: The sliding of glacier ice over bedrock; a process usually facilitated by the lubricating effect of melt water.

Ductile Deformation: The bending of a flowing ice mass that occurs in such a way that the ice itself changes shape with out actually fracturing the surface.

Equilibrium line: A boundary between the accumulation zone and the ablation zone where the glacier is not gaining or losing mass.

Firn: Snow in the state of transition to glacier ice. This rounded, well-bonded snow has survived more than one year of ablation. It has a density greater than 550 kg/m3 (35 lb/ft3).

Glacier: A mass of ice derived largely from snow and continuously moving from higher to lower ground or spreading over the sea.

Ice Sheet: A dome shaped mass of glacier ice that covers surrounding terrain and is greater that 50,000 sq. kilometers (12 million acres) . Greenland and the Antarctic are good examples of places with ice sheets.

Moraine: A mound, ridge, or other distinct accumulation of glacial till.

Mountain Glacier: A glacier that is confined by surrounding mountain terrain.

Retreating Glacier: A glacier that is melting faster in its ablation zone than the snow that is accumulating. The net result is that the glacier's mass is shrinking.

Surging Glacier: A glacier that experiences a dramatic increase in flow rate, ten to one hundred times faster than its normal rate. Usually surge events last less than one year and occur periodically, between fifteen and one hundred years.

Terminus: The lowest end of a glacier. Also called the glacier toe or glacier snout.

Observing Snow

The Four Corners of Life
Water: the Stuff that Makes Snowflakes
Snow on the Ground Changes Through Time
Exploring Native Snow Terms
Glacier Investigations
Open Note Review
Bibliography & Resources


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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified August 14, 2006