Scientists fake hailstones to improve forecasts


Scientists have created artificial hail to better prepare for future extreme weather events.

After Storm Bernd hit Europe in 2021 with large hailstones, damaging properties, vehicles, and crops, researchers decided to create their own hail for experiments.

Using a 3D printer, the team from the Max Planck Society and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz used a vertical wind tunnel for their tests.

A sculpted ice particle used in the experiment. Photo credit: Alexander Theis/JGU

Results show that the shape of hail determines the velocity at which they fall. Meaning irregularly shaped stones fall slower than smoother stones.

The team also froze water to create more natural hail and graupel to see how natural hail melted while falling.

Results from the experiment will help prepare for future extreme weather events by uncovering how hail and graupel behave as they fall.



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