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EAS 10600 #M Group E

Hi Students from EAS 106 #M, this is Group 5. You will be discussing here for the rest of the semester!


Lab 2: Scientific Method

  • Over the next 1-2 days, take some time to observe your surroundings (home, nearby park, street, etc.) and make note of anything that stands out. Keep in mind that your observations are not limited to what you can see and may include smells, sounds, tastes, and touch or feeling (hot/cold, soft/hard, etc).  Do you see anything that you can\’t immediately explain, something that causes you to pause and ask, \”I wonder why….?\”

    For the purpose of this discussion, we will work together to solve this \”problem\” using the scientific method. Your goal is to find a solution that will stand up to the review of your peers.

    1. Describe your observation. Provide sufficient detail (or photos if needed) so that others in the discussion can visualize the problem you see.
    2. Ask a question about your observation for which you do not know the answer. This question will usually include the words \”how\” or \”why\”. Note that if you have trouble forming an initial question, you might want to consider a different observation.
    3. With your question in mind, make 2-3 additional observations that you believe will help you answer the question.
    4. Go ahead and try to answer your question. The answer is your hypothesis and it should come in the form of a confident statement, then you should justify your statement with your observations.

    When you have completed these steps, write a paragraph to summarize your \”research\” and post your research to the discussion board. You should use formal language and grammar (no text-message speak), and the paragraph should clearly explain identify: 1) Your research question, 2) your observations 3) your hypothesis, and 4) how you tested your hypothesis, 5) your results and conclusions.

    After you have submitted your post, return to the discussion board, and review the \”problems\” that your classmates have solved. Post a reply to a minimum of 2 different problems that were \”solved\” by your classmates. In your reply, consider the following:

    Do you agree with the author\’s conclusions?  If so, explain what evidence you found to be the most compelling or conclusive. If not, explain why you are not convinced and suggest some additional observations or tests that could be used to address any lingering questions and reach a more defensible conclusion.

    Based on the author\’s initial results, what are some new questions that you might ask?

    Due Dates


    When posting replies, please be considerate of your peers. The discussion is intended to promote a collaborative learning environment, so be careful of your tone and refrain from inappropriate language or personal attacks. You may challenge others if the intent is to facilitate growth, but do not demand, harass, or embarrass. Encourage others to develop and share their ideas.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)
  • In the past week, there has been a lot of snow here in New York, and upstate where I am we’ve felt it especially hard. My driveway has been packed with snow, but I’ve noticed some interesting things about the qualities of the snow and how it packs. In general, when water accumulates on top of a layer of snow, it forms a fairly thin layer of ice. However, in some places where the snow is deep, it forms large solid clusters as if there were a seed of ice, whereas in other places nearby the snow remains fluffy and easy to move.

    My question is this: Why does ground snow form large solid pieces seemingly at random after large snowfalls, without visible ice formations?

    I’ve observed that this phenomenon occurs most often when there is a vertical or angled surface that the snow can cling to, either metal or rock. Frozen dirt also could act as a seeding spot, but the snow does not seem to cling to the ground, only to other particles of itself. Various forces could be compressing the snow crystals into a tighter pack that does not mesh with nearby particles if disturbed, with the main force being that of wind and oncoming snowfall.

    To answer this question, I would try to discern the main cause of the apparent compression. I would find a date where large snowfall is anticipated, then create a clear patch of concrete about 9 square feet in total. Experimentally, I would suspend a roof over 1 square foot of land, then wait for snow to fall on the uncovered ground. Then, after the snow accumulated to 2 inches, I would measure the time it took to reach this point and put a roof over another square foot. I would continue doing this after each interval of time until the full area was covered from further snowfall. Afterwards, I would measure the height of each square, then try to disturb the snow in each section to see if any part of it formed these densely packed clumps of snow. I would then leave the area for a full day and check if there was any change afterwards.

    If any of these clumps are observed, I would then be able to determine what factors are more likely the cause of these formations: large volumes of snow, time spent on the ground, or the cold concrete acting as a seeding point.

    Even though it did not snow today, there was still a lot of snow and ice on the ground that accumulated from last week’s snow storm and Sunday (2/7) snow fall. The snow from February 2nd had mostly turned into ice and the snow from February 7th blankets that ice with a heavy layer. There were a few days after the snow storm on February 2nd where the temperature was above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, however, the majority of the snow still remained. This led me to ask.

    My question is why does snow still remain on the ground for days/weeks after snow stops falling, even if temperatures are above the melting point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit?

    Another observation I made is that the snow that remains past the days where the temperature is above the melting point, is accumulated in big piles of snow and snow banks. After conducting research and experimenting, I have concluded that the snow did not fully melt (especially in snow banks), even though the temperature was above melting point, because they are piled into dense piles of snow and ice, which causes most of the snow/ice to not be exposed to sunlight and leading to the snow not melting. In addition, there is a lot of energy needed in order to melt snow and ice, if the temperature is above melting point doesn’t necessarily mean that the snow will melt (bigger snow piles require more energy). I tested this by going outside and every snowbank I found tended to have fluffy snow on top that is about an inch deep, but under that fluffy snow, there were over 2 feet of ice that doesn’t get exposed to sunlight.

    Why are there so many consecutive winter snowstorms lately? Over the last couple of weeks, I noticed that there have been at least two winter storms in New York. One snowstorm dumped nearly 20 inches of snow. Another snowstorm can potentially dump 8 inches of snow. All snowstorms were associated with cold freezing temperatures. Another interesting observation is how New York has seen twice the normal amount of snow for this time of year. I also noticed that a polar vortex has recently unleashed an Arctic blast on North America.

    Question: Is there a relationship between polar vortex activity and frequency of snowstorms?

    Hypothesis: An increase in polar vortex activity causes an increase in snowstorms.

    Given polar vortexes are a blast of cold air from the Arctic, they may be responsible for an increase in winter storms. To verify this, I researched more into polar vortexes and winter storms.  A polar vortex is a fast-spinning whirl of insanely cold air. Climate change may be tied to the frequency of polar vertexes acting up. I also read that sudden stratospheric warming events that cause displacements of polar vortexes happen six time per decade, ignoring climate change influences.  It is possible that we may be experiencing our first polar vortex of the 2020s. Snow forms when there is a certain amount of moisture in the air, and when atmospheric temperatures are below freezing. The polar vortex has given plenty of opportunity for snow to form, which may explain the frequency in snowstorms in the last couple weeks. Given the research I conducted, it is safe to say that an increase in polar vortex activity will lead to an increase in winter storms such as snowstorms.


    Hi Jonathan, interesting research. That is something I never thought of before. Snow does tend to linger around even if the temperatures are at the melting point of water.  I agree with your conclusion because you actually left your house to test your question. Denser piles of snow does block sunlight from melting the inner ice, which means the ice will melt slowly over time, not in a short period of time like an ice cube on one’s hand. To investigate further on this fascinating topic, we could find a relationship between the density of snow and the amount of energy needed to melt it completely.

    Interesting question, Arthur. I agree with your conclusion. Given that you attempted to discern the main cause of the compressions of snow crystals, you answered your question. You tested the causes of compressions, and concluded that the volume of snow, time, and the concrete are all factors that cause clumps to form. To go deeper into this topic, one could test if clumps form on different floor materials.

    Recently, while driving around in my neighborhood, I have noticed many more potholes in the middle of the streets. I have counted and ran into about eight of them so far within the past 4 days. Most of them are about the same size.

    My question is: why have so many of these potholes appeared in my neighborhood within the same time frame?

    1. There have been two snowstorms in New York, one taking place on February 1st, and the second, less than a week later on February 7th.
    2. The streets in my neighborhood have small cracks within the concrete.
    3. In the days following these storms, the mornings have been particularly warmer than usual & nights return back to freezing temperatures.
    4. In mornings, the snow would be slush, easily driven over, or simply just running water. At night, these puddles of water and slush would quickly turn into ice.

    Due to the constant change in temperature from the mornings into the nights over that particular week, the melting and freezing of this precipitation that entered the ground beneath the streets, the characteristic of water being able to expand when frozen, and the repeating pattern of melting and freezing, particular portions of the street collapse unto itself, resulting in potholes.

    Over the past week, I had noticed the presence of many potholes around my neighborhood, which all appeared around the same timeline, and I was wondering what may have caused this. I had observed that there had been two snowstorms preceding their appearance, one a week before and another two days before. Also, the temperatures recorded throughout that week were high (about mid-40s) in the mornings, turning the snow into slush and running water, and low (20s and below) during the night, freezing the snow again. The cause of the potholes resulted in the water from the daytime running below the streets from possible cracks, which then froze, expanding the space for more water to enter, freeze, and expand again. This process eventually led to the area underneath the street becoming unsteady, collapsing unto itself, creating a pothole. In conclusion, the weather conditions created the opportunity for much water to enter the streets, and the fluctuation in temperature from day to night made it possible for the water to then make the ground beneath the street in certain areas become unsteady.

    Hi Yussef, I really enjoyed reading your research. I thought you had a really intriguing and practical question. I actually wondered this myself but did not look into it much. I thought it was important how you delved further into polar vortexes and winter storms as well as taking into account how climate change may have had an effect. Overall, I thought you came up with a reasonable and perceptive conclusion.

    Hi Jonathan, I think you have a really good question. I have noticed that the larger, more densely packed snow piles can last for an extremely long time, but I never viewed it as needing more energy to be melted. Given the way you personally conducted your research, your conclusion seems to be practical and sufficient. I also agree with Yussef that it would be interesting to look into the possible relationship between density and energy in this situation.

    I was walking to a neighborhood in The Bronx after a a couple of months. I noticed that there are so much traffic in that area. I had never seen that in that specific area. Some cars are double parked and people are honking from everywhere. It looked so frustrated to me.

    My question: Why there is so significant change in population and transportation in a few months?

    My observation on this, I have seen there are so many supermarkets and businesses built up in that neighborhood. I have seen a live poultry and fish market where the line is longest. That also gave me an idea why the cars are double parked. Live poultry’s and fishes are attracting people to buy. So they don’t care waiting on line for 2 hours to collect them. In the meantime, they are leaving there cars double parked which is causing more traffic problems. As a results people are honking. Which is causing sound pollution.

    The solution would be limiting the people in the stores and increasing the number of deliveries to peoples house which will help customers not to be waiting on line. Also traffic enforcements should be more strict to ensure the less traffic around. More summons should be issued to make awareness into people. This will help to reduce traffic and sound pollution.

    Hey Dahlia,

    I think your question and research topic is very interesting, I have also noticed a lot of new potholes in my neighborhood recently. I think your conclusion is valid because I also realized that there are cracks in the street near me and the water after it rains and snows tends to get in those cracks and when water freezes it expands which could lead to potholes forming.

    Hey Yussef. Very interesting research with so much information. I also agree, many times during winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream . This occurs fairly regularly during wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States

    Hi Jonathan. Very good question and excellent research! I also agree to that, snowflakes are agglomerates of many snow crystals. Most snowflakes are less than one-half inch across. Under certain conditions, usually requiring near-freezing temperatures, light winds, and unstable, convective atmospheric conditions, much larger and irregular flakes close to two inches across in the longest dimension can form.

    Hi Yussef,

    I think your question is very interesting because I also was wondering the same thing. I remember last year we barely got any snow and I was wondering what changed this year. I never did any research on polar vortexes, however I believe that your conclusion is very valid and is a good explanation for the increase of snow this year.

    Your hypothesis about the mechanism to make these potholes seems very accurate! It aligns with what I would assume to be the cause of those potholes as well. If you wanted to expand on this thought, it might be a good idea to consider what materials your roads are built on top of, and if that material is susceptible to erosion or is otherwise more movable by the actions of freezing water than the asphalt.

    While I don’t have any kind of similar population where I am, I can imagine that many people in one place would create traffic problems regardless of the kinds of services they were trying to get to. If you can’t make larger parking lots because of the dense urban planning then there will be plenty of traffic issues with that too. I think you have the right idea about making traffic enforcements stricter, but maybe people just never learn how to park correctly in that neighborhood. I don’t know how restrictive the license requirements are, but maybe it would help you answer your questions here?

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 21 total)

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