Ice Crystal

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Ice Crystal

Any one of a number of macroscopic, crystalline forms in which ice appears, including hexagonal columns, hexagonal platelets, dendritic crystals, ice needles, and combinations of these forms.

The crystal lattice of ice is hexagonal in its symmetry under most atmospheric conditions. Varying conditions of temperature and vapor pressure can lead to growth of crystalline forms in which the simple hexagonal pattern is present in widely different habits (a thin hexagonal plate or a long thin hexagonal column).

In many ice crystals, trigonal symmetry can be observed, suggesting an influence of a cubic symmetry. The principal axis (c axis) of a single crystal of ice is perpendicular to the axis of hexagonal symmetry. Planes perpendicular to this axis are called basal planes (a axes related to the prism facets) and present a hexagonal cross section.


  • 1. Glossary of Meteorology [1]

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