There are quite a few types of frost and each have their own required conditions to appear, however there is two common factors that is required for frost to form. These are that vapor is present in the air and the temperature is cold enough, usually zero or below, to freeze this vapor.
Only certain parts of the world experiences frost while other parts never experience this phenomenon. The air has to be loaded with moisture for this to occur and it is warm air that carries this moisture along and the temperature has to be just right. When this air is so heavy laden with moisture it is called the dew point. When this air reached the dew point we know it in the form of rain or snow. Given that the temperatures are zero or below at this time the moisture freezes and causes many types of frost.
Hoar frost is often referred to as radiation frost and it touches everything that is around us on the outside. Perhaps hoar frost is one of the most beautiful frosts you can experience. It clings to every leaf and branch outlining their form with delicate crystals. The objects themselves have cooled sufficiently to let these crystals form from the vapor that is in the air and with the cooler temperatures.
Hoar frost can react differently in different places such as surface hoar which forms on snow and is the cause of some avalanches when it forms. Crevasse hoar is frost that forms in deep glaciers. Depth hoar frost forms deep under layers of snow these are somewhat cup shaped. You can even find hoar frost in some freezers or cold storage places. Hoar frost can be very magical and has a tendency to define the smallest of branches on a tree so that we have the privilege of viewing scenery in a whole different light.
Rime frost takes on a life of its own under the right conditions. There has to be a lot of moisture in the air for rime frost to happen plus a good wind blowing. For rime frost to take place the surface of objects must be wet to begin with. For example the condensation has to have built up on the object before freezing occurs such as the water that happens from the ocean when a boat is at sea. Rime frost will keep building. This type of frost is not delicate but rather quite firm.
Fern frost or window frost has a beauty all its own. This is the type of frost you see on your window on a very cold day and is formed due to the moisture on the inside of your window and the freezing cold outside. This usually happens if your windows are not insulated very well and the heat and moisture escapes but it can also happen on well insulated windows if the conditions are just right. The coldness of the glass will determine the shape of the crystals that forms.
Frost flowers are a frost that forms on plants. The ground doesn’t have to be frozen for these to form. The frost causes the plant to crack open and the moisture inside to weep out. It is this moisture that freezes when the cold air makes contact with it. Flower frost can affect live plants as well as dead ones in the same fashion. These types of frost doesn’t stay around for long and tend to be a little elusive but is a wondrous sight to see.
Advection frost which is also known as wind frost appears in the form of spikes somewhat like icicles that form when the wind is blowing and the temperature is right but again it must be below freezing. This type of frost can form on trees or anything that is exposed to the outside temperatures and the conditions are just right. This type of frost will form pointing towards the wind rather than away from it.
Frost is a very beautiful thing and something worthwhile watching. It can appear on any surface and is interesting to study with the different formations that are offered. So the next cold morning you wake up and it is very cold outside take a walk and truly enjoy what nature offers us for free. Their formations take on many different shapes such as feather, ferns and needles and the list goes on. If you are trying to look through your kitchen window that is covered with frost on a cold winter’s morning while saying that there is nothing to see it is certainly an understatement. The beauty is right in front of you.