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> May 29, 2006, Diamond Dust and Playing in the Snow
Kevin_McMahon
post May 30 2006, 06:30 PM
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High Temperature: -18 degrees Celsius
Low Temperature: -28 degrees Celsius

Diamond Dust

Walking out to our satellite camp, I noticed something glittering in the air. It was as if someone was sprinkling white, gold, green, and purple glitter from the sky. “Mike, look at this,” I shouted. Mike explained to me that these small glittering ice crystals are called “diamond dust”. It is the perfect name to describe this incredible sight. The strange thing about diamond dust is that it can occur when there are no clouds in the sky. I tried to take a picture of the diamond dust but the crystals were too small to photograph well.

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If you look closely at the upper left hand corner of this photo, you may be able to see two small white specks of diamond dust. This photo doesn’t do this natural phenomenon justice.

For more information on diamond dust and how it is formed, visit this site: Diamond Dust Information

As I looked down to the ground, I noticed that the sun was reflecting off random snow crystals on the ground. Shimmering colors of gold, green, and purple speckled the snow. It is as if gemstones are buried in the snow. This natural phenomenon also has been hard to photograph.

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Summit, Greenland’s glittering snow crystals


Playing in the Snow


Today we began our snow monitoring. It reminds me of playing in the snow when I was a kid. How do we monitor the snow? We go to a patch of snow that has not been trampled. We get on our hands and knees and scoop up the loose top layer of snow with a glass scooper. The snow gets put into a clean glass bottle. We take the snow inside until it melts and then Gayle puts the water through a machine that measures how much total organic compounds are in the snow. I will write about the preliminary results of the snow monitoring soon. Gayle will continue these measurements all summer. Here is our daily schedule for snow monitoring:

5:00 a.m. – Gayle takes snow measurements (three 250 mL jars)
11:00 a.m. – Gayle takes snow measurements (three 250 mL jars)
5:00 p.m. – Kevin and Mike take snow measurements (three 250 mL jars and ten 1L jars)
11:00 p.m. – Kevin and Mike take snow measurements (three 250 mL jars)

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Gayle Hagler collecting snow samples

Today has been a good day. How many people got to see diamond dust and play in the snow in May?


Arctic fact of the day: Greenlandic is one of the many Inuit dialects spoken in the Arctic. Numbers in Greenlandic only go up to 12. After 12, there is only “amerlasoorpassuit,” which means “many.”
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