Methods to collect, transport, and store samples of snow and ice have been developed that enable detailed observations of these samples with a technique known as low-temperature scanning electron microscopy (LTSEM). This technique increases the resolution and ease with which samples of snow and ice can be observed, studied, and photographed. Samples are easily collected in the field and have been shipped to the electron microscopy laboratory by common air carrier from distances as far as 5,000 miles. Delicate specimens of snow crystals and ice grains survive the shipment procedures and have been stored for as long as 3 years without undergoing any structural changes. The samples are not subjected to the melting or sublimation artifacts. LTSEM allows individual crystals to be observed for several hours with no detectable changes. Furthermore, the instrument permits recording of photographs containing the parallax information necessary for three-dimensional imaging of the true shapes of snowflakes, snow crystals, snow clusters, ice grains, and interspersed air spaces. This study presents detailed descriptions of the procedures that have been used successfully in the field and the laboratory to collect, ship, store, and image snow crystals and ice grains. Published 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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Collecting, shipping, storing, and imaging snow crystals and ice grains with low-temperature scanning electron microscopy