Photo contest encourages fun, beauty at work

March 9, 2015 | Sarah Witman

Photographs submitted for the 2014 AOSS Photo Contest are now on display outside the Schwerdtfeger Library.

Slideshow | 40 slides AOSS Photo Contest 2014

Each year, students, faculty, and staff who work in the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences building are invited to submit their photography of a weather event, anywhere in the world. Uniquely blending art and science, the photos provide a glimpse into a scientist’s view of the natural world.

This year’s blue-ribbon winner is SSEC executive director Fred Best.

“I am an engineer, but like everyone here I am interested in weather phenomena,” Best said. “I love nature, and I’m always out taking pictures.”

Best’s entry depicts a significant weather event from just over a year ago: hoar frost. This somewhat rare type of frost occurs on cold, clear nights when moisture in the air suddenly cools and freezes into ice crystals. The crystals cling to outdoor surfaces, piling up and forming tiny towers of ice. The macro image shot by Best captures the intricate details of these feathery, icy spines.

“There was a dramatic case of hoar frost that day,” he explained, noting how the diminutive size of the berries accentuates the equally delicate ice growths in the photo.

A lifelong photography hobbyist, Best has entered the contest a handful of times in previous years. A photo of lake ice that he entered in 2012 was awarded third place.

“There are a lot of photographers in the Center, and [the contest] is a great opportunity for everyone to share their pictures; it’s fun,” he said. “I think it adds to the beauty and overall environment here.”

The entries will be on display on the third floor for the remainder of the year. Other winners include Paolo Vaglio, in second place, and Grant Petty, in third place. Hank Revercomb and Alex Goldstein were awarded honorable mentions.

All entries from this year are in the slideshow above. Photos from past AOSS photo contests are archived in the Schwerdtfeger Library.

by Sarah Witman