Metamorphosis

After deposition, snow progresses on one of two paths that determine its fate, either ablation (mostly by melting) or transitioning from firn (multi-year snow) into glacier ice. During this transition, snow "is a highly porous, sintered material made up of a continuous ice structure and a continuously connected pore space, forming together the snow microstructure". Almost always near its melting temperature, a snowpack is continually transforming these properties in a process, known as metamorphism, wherein all three phases of water may coexist, including liquid water partially filling the pore space. Starting as a powdery deposition, snow becomes more granular when it begins to compact under its own weight, be blown by the wind, sinter particles together and commence the cycle of melting and refreezing. Water vapor plays a role as it deposits ice crystals, known as hoar frost, during cold, still conditions

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