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Maharani 1

Asri Maharani
English for Specific Purposes
The Science of Snowflake
Through a magnifying glass at a snowflake, and youll see an ice
creation more elaborate. So whats behind the snowflakes unique and
elaborate shape?
The growth of snowflakes is known as crystallization. During this
process, the water molecules align themselves to maximize attractive
forces and minimize repulsive ones. As a result, the water molecules
arrange themselves in predetermined spaces and in a specific
arrangement. This process is much like tiling a floor in accordance with a
specific pattern: once the pattern is chosen and the first tiles are placed,
then all the other tiles must go in predetermined spaces in order to
maintain the pattern of symmetry. Water molecules simply arrange
themselves to fit the spaces and maintain symmetry; in this way, the
different arms of the snowflake are formed.
Water molecules in the solid state, such as in ice and snow, form
weak bonds (called hydrogen bonds) to one another. The two hydrogen
atoms of the molecules tend to attract neighboring water molecules.
When the temperature (thermal motion) is low enough, the molecules link
together to form a solid, open framework that has a strict hexagonal
Although all snowflakes have a hexagonal shape other details of
their geometry can vary. These variations are produced by different
temperature and humidity conditions through which the snowflake falls.
Rarely, at a temperature of around 2 C (28 F), snowflakes can form in
threefold symmetry triangular snowflakes. At low humidity you get
simple plates and simple hexagonal blocks. At higher humidity, more
branched structures.

Maharani 2

The formation of snowflakes high in Earth's atmosphere does not

guarantee snowfall on Earth's surface. That will only happen if air
temperatures are below freezing. If the snowflakes pass through a thin
warm layer of air they could experience partial melting. When they exit
the warm air they will refreeze on the way down in the form of a tiny ice
pellet. This is how sleet forms.
Temperature and humidity are the two main factors that influence
how the crystalline structure forms. If the temperature and humidity level
changes, so does the growth pattern of the crystal.
Work Cited
Scientific American. Why are snowflakes symmetrical? How can ice
crystallizing on one arm 'know' the shape of the other arms on the







King, Hobart. How Do Snowflakes Form? 20 Oct 2015