GPM Gets Flake-y

Narration: Gail Skofronick-Jackson


One of the things that's really interesting about snowflakes that not many people know is that every single one of them has six sides. And that's the way that the bonds, when they freeze, they actually force the water to have a fixed side. Liquid water can move all around, you know, you can pour it and stuff like that, but snow always has six sides. As the snowflake grows, parts form off the side depending on the temperature and the water that's available within the atmospheric column. You start to get different parts that come out of that snowflake. And you can get these beautifully complex dendrites with just little spikes off of them, and they are all from that hard binding between the oxygen and the hydrogen within the water itself as it freezes.

It's important to be able to improve these numerical weather predictions and their forecasts. Right now they're slowly moving toward making the snowflakes within these models more realistic. And GPM can do that because we are able to measure layer-by-layer within the storm and provide drop size distributions, not only of the rain particles, but also the snowflakes within that storm. And that allows us to put that information into numerical weather prediction to have a better estimate of these types of storms and where they're going to have the most impact on society.