Snow features on frozen lakes

This winter, I’ve started to study¬†snow bedforms. When snow falls, it settles into soft blankets – unless it gets caught by a strong wind. In Colorado, some of our strongest winter winds appear in the Front Range, where cold air falls over the Continental Divide towards the plains. When the wind picks up snow, it forms fantastic, ordered bedforms, like pointed sastrugi:

Sastrugi point towards the wind

and dune-like crescents:, both big:

Snow crescent angled into the wind

and little:

A small snow crescent on a frozen lake

I took these photos with CU-Boulder undergraduate Clea Bertholet for scale.

In the coming weeks, I plan to start taking measurements and (eventually) build a model of snow bedform development in different wind and snow conditions. For now, we’re scouting snow conditions around Colorado.

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