Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

Tell us why snow is white but ice is blue

Why is snow white but glacier ice blue? This is a question Jessie has often asked me and we want you to tell us.  So we thought we’d try a little contest.

Challenge: Post a comment with a clear explanation for why snow is white but ice is blue

Reward: Antarctic Shwag

Details: We will a choose winner from each of Claire Lane’s father’s AFSA classes and one from other contributers.

Use any sources you want, but please have the comments be in your own words.

Please post your comments  in the next week, by December 17.

Good luck.  We look forward to reading your comments!

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11 responses

  1. Kelly

    Snow is white and ice is blue because ice is less dense than snow and therefore reflects the light differently. The ice absorbs all the light except blue and therefore we see blue. Snow is more dense and absorbs very little light and therefore we see white. When you combine all the colors of the light spectrum you get white. This is opposite of the color spectrum where when you combine all the colors you get brown. I hope I win!!!!!!

    December 12, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    • dana

      not fair, she is your twin 😉 Haha. Im going to attempt an answer too

      December 12, 2010 at 2:19 PM

      • It is not who answered first, but who provided the best answer. You have plenty of time!!

        December 13, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    • Kelly meant to say that ice is more dense than snow.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:45 AM

      • That is what I thought 🙂

        December 16, 2010 at 9:07 AM

  2. Melanie Parker Berg

    No doubt it has something to do with the penetration of the various colors of visible light’s electromagnetic waves, and blue somehow “wins” in a huge chunk of ice. Alternatively, snow is white because that was the color of Snow White’s face, and ice is blue because blue raspberry is the preferred shaved ice flavor of Antarctic penguins.

    December 12, 2010 at 1:46 PM

  3. Allie

    If I don’t win this, I’m not going to be very happy. 😉

    Snow is white and ice is blue because……..

    Why not??

    December 12, 2010 at 7:13 PM

  4. Regina

    Heh. I assume that those of us who just did this homework assignment in Steve’s Physics of Ice class are ineligible?

    December 12, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    • tjfudge

      You’re eligible, but held to a higher standard 🙂

      December 13, 2010 at 10:46 AM

  5. dana

    Snow has small pockets of air that reflect all visible light causing it to be white. Ice is consolidated and has no bubbles so some visible light can be absorbed. Ice absorbs red first in the visible spectrum. Blue, which is at the other end of the visible spectrum, gets reflected. By 2M deep in a glacier all the red light has been absorbed and you see the blue light.

    December 16, 2010 at 4:35 PM

  6. mom

    oh my god I love you guys….and no I am not drunk!

    December 17, 2010 at 5:28 PM

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