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Published December 17, 2019 | Submitted
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A Quantitative Physical Model of the Snow Crystal Morphology Diagram


I describe a semi-empirical molecular model of the surface attachment kinetics governing ice crystal growth from water vapor as a function of temperature, supersaturation, and crystal mesostructure. An important new hypothesis in this model is surface-energy-driven molecular diffusion enabled by a leaky Ehrlich-Schwoebel barrier. The proposed surface-diffusion behavior is sensitive to facet width and surface premelting, yielding structure-dependent attachment kinetics with a complex temperature dependence. By incorporating several reasonable assumptions regarding the surface premelting behavior on basal and prism facets, this model can explain the overarching features of the snow crystal morphology diagram, which has been an enduring scientific puzzle for nearly 75 years.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023