8 Beautiful, Weird, and Scary Things Ice Can Do
Ice can be the bane of your existence in winter, turning streets and sidewalks into slippery deathtraps.
But when conditions are just right, ice can create all sorts of weird phenomena. It’s delicate enough to form beautiful flowers of frost, but powerful enough to fuel earthquakes.
1.Let’s start with ice spikes!
You’ve probably seen tons of icicles – but have you ever seen one that formed upside down?
Ice spikes seem to defy gravity, growing upward from an icy surface.
They may look impossible, but they’re a result of the quirky way that water freezes.
Water actually becomes less dense and expands as it freezes, because of the way water moleculs arrange themselves into a crystalline structure and form hydrogen bonds.
When a crust of ice forms, the remaining liquid water doesn’t really have room to expand as it transitions into a solid state and sometimes, like an ice cube tray, it finds another way to expand.
That’s how ice spikes are formed!
Misty, gloomy fog appears when a cloud of water droplets forms at ground level. But when the temperature plummets, you might experience a little something called freezing fog.
Tiny liquid water droplets suspended in the air don’t necessarily freez at 0 degrees Celsius.
For ice crystals to form easily, the water molecules need a bit of something solid that they can glom onto to get aligned and start crystallizing, which is called NUCLEATION.
If you hear a loud boom that rattles your windows on a very, very cold night, don’t be so quick to blame supersonic aircrafts or aliens.
You might have just heard the sound of a frost quake, also known as a cryoseism.
When changing weather causes the temperature to drop fast enough, water that’s seeped into the soil can freeze rapidly and expand, causing a miniature explosion underground.
4.Frost flowers: Land
To see a frost flower on land, head to the woods the morning after first hard freeze of fall.
These fragile petals and curlicues of ice form when plant stems rupture in freezing eather, letting the moisture inside ooze out and freeze when it hits the cold air.
5.Frost flowers: Sea ice
The term frost flower can also refer to flower-like formations that appear on new, thin sea ice.
When the air is cold enough, water sublimates directly into vapor from the solid surface of the ice, skipping the liquid stage altogether.
When this water vapor touches chunks of ice again, it refreezes thanks to nucleation, and can form flower-like structures.
On rivers around the world, a strange sight might appear in winter: perfectly round circles of ice, rotating slowly in the current.
These ice discs have been known to reach up to 100 meters across and last for months. But they are pretty rare, and there are multiple theories on how they form.
One main idea is that they form when ice freezes in a still patch in middle of a swirling eddy. But a 2016 study also showed that ice discs will even start to spin under their own power, with no help from moving currents around them.
7.Frozen methane bubbles
Abraham Lake, a man-made lake at the base of the Canadian Rockies, is famous for photogenic bubbles that form in the ice every winter.
But be careful – these bubbles can explode.
Bacteria living on the bottom of the lake decompose the dead organic matter down there for energy, and release methane gas that gets trapped as bubbles in the freezing water.
If you poke a hole through the ice, you can light these bubbles on fire, and scientists have done just that to prove that they really do contain methane.
Tsunamis are known for their power, sweeping away beachfront buildings, and you might have seen some grainy cell phone videos of slow-motion ice tsunamis doing the same thing.
In 2013, ice shoves got up to 9 meters high and damaged homes in Minnesota and Montana, grinding up the lakeshores with a crackling sound.
Chunks of ice form on the surface of the lake, and as strong winds push them towards land, they break up into smaller fragments and pick up even more ice along the way.
Even it can cause some damages it’s safe to say that ice is pretty amazing. If it didn’t float on top of liquid water, aquatic life probably couldn’t exist at all.
That is all and I hope you learned something new! 🙂