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Fairbanks vs. New York City

After traveling through 4 time zones and across thousands of miles (roughly 4200!), I arrived safely in Fairbanks, Alaska. We have been experiencing some pretty cold temperatures in New York this winter, but as I stepped outside the airport and felt my nose sting with 20 below air temperatures, I knew I had made it to the right place. I got into a taxi and drove down icy streets to my hotel. Looking out the window, I was amazed to be here. Let the adventure begin!

Fairbanks, AlaskaThe view of Fairbanks, Alaska from my hotel window.

Going Through Phases in Alaska

When people get to experience very, very cold temperatures, there is a popular way to test out the elements: throwing hot water into the air. During my time with PolarTREC in Fairbanks, Alaska, I took advantage of the below-freezing temperatures to try out this famous test. It was only -17 degrees Fahrenheit, but I was still able to create snow from my cups of hot water. Watch the video below to see!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpNwbBn5Rqk&feature=youtu.be

Notice how the cold water did not turn in to snow, but the hot water did. Why is that? Post your answer to why you think hot water turns into snow but cold water doesn't in the comments section below and stay tuned to the next journal entry to see if you were right.

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Guest said:

The hot water created snow because of the rapid change from molecules moving really fast to moving really slow, the cold water didn't have that rapid change so it didn't work. Ben
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Guest said:

The hot water created snow due to change from molecules. The cold water is already cold so that's why it didn't turn into snow. The hot water condensed faster, and the molecules are faster than the ones in cold water.
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Guest said:

I think that hot water works better when making snow then cold water because when the hot water is exposed to the colder air, the molecules slow down, creating a rapid change in form from a liquid to the solid, snow. As opposed to the cold water, that is not experiencing molecular change due to the close relation in temperature, change in energy, etc. -Sarah R.
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Guest said:

I think that the reason that the hot water turns into snow easier than cold water is before the hot water leaves the cup its already dispersing its self making it easier to condence when it hits the below zero air Zane
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Guest said:

My guess to why the hot water turned to snow and the cold water didn't is because of the difference in temperature. When it is -17 degrees out there is no water vapor in the air, so when you emit water vapor in to the air (hot water) the molecules will spread apart and form snow. When you throw cold water in the air, there is no molecular change. -Ken S
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Guest said:

My guess to why the hot water turned to snow and the cold water didn't is because of the difference in temperature. When it is -17 degrees out there is no water vapor in the air, so when you emit water vapor in to the air (hot water) the molecules will spread apart and form snow. When you throw cold water in the air, there is no molecular change. -Ken S
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Guest said:

I think that hot water turns into snow because of its difference with the air temperature, therefore as it goes through the air the change in temperature is fast that the molecules's temperature of the water decrease so fast that the air froze. But because there isn't a big difference between the cold water temperature and tha air temperature it doesn't affect the cold water molecules. -Tom T
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Guest said:

I think that hot water turns into snow because of its difference with the air temperature, therefore as it goes through the air the change in temperature is fast that the molecules's temperature of the water decrease so fast that the air froze. But because there isn't a big difference between the cold water temperature and tha air temperature it doesn't affect the cold water molecules. -Tom T
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Guest said:

I think that the hot water turned into snow because it's molecules started moving fast then cooled and slowed, so it turned to snow, while the cold water experienced no change. Harry K
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Guest said:

I think the hot water works better than the cold water because when the hot water is thrown into the air the molecules slow down much more rapidly resulting in snow.
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Guest replied:

That was written by Madeleine W.
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Guest said:

I think since the water is already cold the cold air has no effect on the water. But for the hot water has faster moving molecules so the change of temperature slows down the molecules and freezes the water. Nick Manske
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Guest said:

I think the reason that hot water turns into snow is because the spaces between the water is big and when the water gets cold it turns to water vapor after that it turns into snow Ethan H
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Guest said:

I think the reason that hot water turns into snow is because the spaces between the water is big and when the water gets cold it turns to water vapor after that it turns into snow Ethan H
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Guest said:

I think the reason that hot water turns into snow is because the spaces between the water is big and when the water gets cold it turns to water vapor after that it turns into snow Ethan H
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Guest said:

I think the reason that hot water turns into snow is because the spaces between the water is big and when the water gets cold it turns to water vapor after that it turns into snow Ethan H
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Guest said:

well i think that the hot water turned into snow because of the temperature of the water. since it was pretty hot and it meet cold air then it turned into snow. The cold water stayed the same because the water was cold and so was the air so it didn't change at all. Jason H
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Guest said:

well i think that the hot water turned into snow because of the temperature of the water. since it was pretty hot and it meet cold air then it turned into snow. The cold water stayed the same because the water was cold and so was the air so it didn't change at all. Jason H
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Guest said:

I think that since the temperature of the air was already cold, it did not affect the cold water leaving it with e same chemical structure it had as it did in the cup. However the hot water probably must have mixed with the cold air changing its chemical structure creating snow. Keyla A.
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Guest said:

I think that the molecules of the cold water are so condensed it does not allow the water to freeze as quickly, because there is very little room for the air to enter. Also, since the hot water was in the cup, its molecules were always hitting one another, keeping it hot, but when it was thrown out, its molecules were separated and it froze, while the cold waters molecules were already that spread out.
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Guest said:

I think the hot water turned into snow because it was cold outside, and there was hardly any water vapor in the air, where as boiling water emits vapor, When you throw the water up in the air, it breaks into much smaller droplets, so there's even more surface for water vapor to come off
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Guest said:

Katherine R ^
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Guest said:

I think the hot water turned into snow because since the water was so hot when she throw it up in the air the hot stream made the water turn into snow. Also it has to be the heat of the water because the cold water is already cold that's why it doesn't react like the hot water do. -Shamia C.
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Guest said:

I think that the hot water had molecules that were moving very quickly and bursting through the surface of the water into the air, and than when they got into the air they reacted to the cold by turning into snow. The cold water molecules were not moving as fast, so very few of them reached the air as air molecules, and so they were not able to turn into snow.
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Guest said:

I think that the hot water had molecules that were moving very quickly and bursting through the surface of the water into the air, and than when they got into the air they reacted to the cold by turning into snow. The cold water molecules were not moving as fast, so very few of them reached the air as air molecules, and so they were not able to turn into snow.
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Guest said:

I think the hot water works better because it evaporates more quickly than cold water. It then begins to cool down and condense. In cold air, the molecules are more dense which means they take much longer to evaporate. This also explains why hot water creates steam, and cold water doesn't
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Guest said:

(!!!) I think the hot water works better because it evaporates more quickly than cold water. It then begins to cool down and condense. In cold air, the molecules are more dense which means they take much longer to evaporate. This also explains why hot water creates steam, and cold water doesn't -Natania Kosman
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Guest said:

I think that the hot water works well for this experiment due to the fact that the molecules are moving more quickly and are spread apart. There is more space in between each of the molecules and a larger surface area. This allows the cold air to cool the water more quickly. circe
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Guest said:

The hot water is so close to being steam, that throwing it into the air causes it to break up into tiny droplets? It's really interesting how the hot water turned into that rather than the cold water.
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Guest said:

I think it's because since the cold molecules are used to cold temperature when they meet with an unusual force that is hot temperature they react in a way causing snow. Alhussen Alghurbani