Konstantin Shkurko

Konstantin Shkurko

Ph.D Student
School of Computing
University of Utah

Advisor: Erik Brunvand

School of Computing
50 S Central Campus Dr, RM 3190
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

kshkurko AT cs DOT utah DOT edu
kis9 AT cornell DOT edu

MASC Picture

Fall Speed Measurement and High-Resolution Multi-Angle Photography of Hydrometeors in Free Fall

Tim Garrett, Cale Fallgatter, Konstantin Shkurko, and Daniel Howlett

AMT (Atmospheric Measurement Techniques), Vol 5, Iss 11, 2012


Abstract: We describe here a new instrument for imaging hydrometeors in free fall. The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC) captures high-resolution photographs of hydrometeors from three angles while simultaneously measuring their fall speed. Based on the stereoscopic photographs captured over the two months of continuous measurements obtained at a high altitude location within the Wasatch Front in Utah, we derive statistics for fall speed, hydrometeor size, shape, orientation and aspect ratio. From a selection of the photographed hydrometeors, an illustration is provided for how the instrument might be used for making improved microwave scattering calculations. Complex, aggregated snowflake shapes appear to be more strongly forward scattering, at the expense of reduced back-scatter, than heavily rimed graupel particles of similar size.


Files:     paper (pdf, 9.93 MB)     BibTex (bib, 1 KB)


Links:     project page     live snowflake feed     gallery of selected flakes




Media: Besides writing the acquisition software for the MASC, we ran microwave scattering calculations on a few targets using DDSCAT software package. The results are shown in the paper. PBRT renderer was used to visualize the targets. The images below show the synthetic volumetric cube targets, where ice is shown as red and air is shwon as blue transparent cubes. From left to right are fully filled lattice, extruded front frace of alternating materials in 2D and lattice with materials alternating in 3D.

Synthetic target, filled cube Synthetic target, cube with extruded front face Synthetic target, cuve with alternating materials


Since the MASC takes pictures of snowflakes, we are able to compute scattering off real snowflakes by using the volumes built by extruding the captured image of a snowflake. The top row of images below shows the targets used for scaterring, while the bottom row shows the corresponding captured images.

Target from extruding snowflake image 1 Target from extruding snowflake image 2 Target from extruding snowflake image 3
Original image 1 Original image 2 Original image 3


Acknowledgements: The MASC was developed with support from NASA, NSF, the US Army, and the University of Utah Technology Commercialization Office. We disclose that T. J. G. and C. F. are co-owners of Fallgatter Technologies which designs, builds and sells the MASC.

MASC In The News

In The News

We are extremely fortunate to have our project mentioned in quite a few avenues and the response seems to have been rather overwhelming. Below are some of the links to the published articles. There seem to be some international articles as well, which have been omitted from this list.

Birth of a Snowflake! (video)
See:     Weather.com


The Great White Lie: What Snowflakes Really Look Like    Show...
Read More:     New Scientist


Falling Snowflakes Captured in 3D    Show...
Read More:     Visual News


A Snowflake's Significance    Show...
Read More:     Continuum, the magazine of the University of Utah



Could Snowflakes Revolutionize Weather Forecasts?    Show...
Read More:     Weather.com


UW alum seeks to forecast perfect ski day through 3D snowflake photos    Show...
Read More:     KOMO News


Custom cameras catch weather clues, beauty in Utah snowflakes    Show...
Read More:     Salt Lake Tribune


Snowflakes Falling on Cameras    Show...
Read More:     University of Utah press


Picture This    Show...
Read More:     Utah Adventure Journal


Les flocons de neige photographiés en plein vol    Show...
Read More:     Le Figaro


3-D camera captures snowflakes in freefall    Show...
Read More:     Toronto Star


The Road from R&D to Commercialization    Show...
Read More:     Photonics Spectra


Scientists capture snowflakes in 3D to improve storm models    Show...
Read More:     Wired


High-speed camera system catches close-ups of snowflakes in mid-air    Show...
Read More:     Gizmag


Crystallizing Opinion    Show...
Read More:     Meteorological Technology International


Unique photography rig captures snowflakes in mid-flight    Show...
Read More:     NBC News


Cameras Capture Falling Snowflakes in 3D    Show...
Read More:     LiveScience     Yahoo! News     Fox News     Discovery News


Automatic 3D Snowflake Camera: Find Out For Yourself If No Two Are Alike    Show...
Read More:     Gizmodo     Gizmodo Australia


The high tech camera that can snap snowflakes in 3D as they fall - and could help forecasters better predict blizzards    Show...
Read More:     Daily Mail


High Speed Cameras Capture Falling Snowflakes in 3D    Show...
Read More:     TreeHugger


Alta is for Science: Utah Ski Area Hosts Cutting-Edge Snow Science Research Technology    Show...
Read More:     The Avalanche Review, pg 6, Vol. 30, No. 4, April, 2012


New Camera at Alta Captures the World's First Images of Snowflakes in Flight    Show...
Read More:     Poweder Magazine, 2012 Photo Annual

MASC Picture

The Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera

Tim Garrett, Edward Bair, Cale Fallgatter, Konstantin Shkurko, Robert E. Davis, and Daniel Howlett

ISSW (International Snow Science Workshop), 2012


Abstract: We introduce a new instrument called the Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC). The MASC provides 10 to 40 µm resolution stereoscopic images of individual hydrometeors in freefall, while simultaneously measuring their fallspeed. Previously, manual photography of hydrometeors required collection on a flat surface, a process that is somewhat subjective and remarkably finicky due to the fragile nature of the particles. By contrast, the MASC is fully automated, and uses a sensitive IR trigger so that no physical contact is necessary. Field measurements at Alta and Mammoth are showing an extraordinary variety of hydrometeor forms. The MASC has many potential applications. We highlight three current projects: 1) improving understanding of the size-fallspeed relationships that are used to characterize precipitation in Doppler radar retrievals and numerical weather prediction models, 2) identifying weak crystals that form failure layers in avalanches during storms, and 3) using MASC measurements in conjunction with a scanning terrestrial LiDAR to estimate precipitation rates during storms.

Files:     paper (pdf, 1.22 MB)     BibTex (bib, 1.44 KB)

MASC Poster

A New Instrument for High-Speed, High Resolution Stereoscopic Photography of Falling Hydrometeors with Simultaneous Measurement of Fallspeed

Tim Garrett, Cale Fallgatter, Konstantin Shkurko, Daniel Howlett, Sandra Yuter, Nate Hardin, and Jennifer Dean



Abstract: The Fallgatter Technologies Multi­-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC) provides up to 9 micron resolution stereoscopic photographic images of individual falling hydrometeors along with their fallspeed. The MASC uses a sensitive IR motion sensor for a trigger and photographs the particle surface from multiple angles. By comparison, the Joanneum Research 2DVD provides only 200 micron resolution silhoueLes, making habit identification hard to impossible.

The potential of the MASC is for improved calculations of the relationships between hydrometeor microwave scattering properties and their microphysical and fallspeed properties. This past winter, we deployed two MASCs, an FSSP­-100, meteorological instrumentation and a vertically pointing MicroRainRadar to Alta Ski Area near Salt Lake City. This poster shows hydrometeor statistics and microwave scattering calculations based on the data obtained between February and April, 2012.

Files:     high res poster (pdf, 35.70 MB)     low res poster (pdf, 4.89 MB)