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Shafts of snow sculpted by sun

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1:01pm, March 28, 2006

From Baltimore, at a meeting of the American Physical Society

On the surfaces of many glaciers high in the Andes Mountains, towering spikes of snow called penitentes crowd the terrain like legions of white ghosts. Now, experiments on miniature, laboratory versions of such spikes suggest that those remarkable pillars start to form when strong sunlight, bitter cold, and snow-surface irregularities conspire to cause snow to evaporate first from low spots.

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