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Experiments on ice spikes and a simple growth model

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Ice-spike observations in nature have sparked much interest in the scientific and non-scientific communities alike, yet most research performed thus far has been largely qualitative. We have conducted a quantitative, systematic laboratory investigation in order to assess theories explaining ice-spike growth and to determine the conditions conducive to it. We observed ice-spike growth using time-lapse digital photography, using two water types in two different containers. We observed that ice spikes occurred much more frequently in distilled water than in tap water. Digital images were analyzed to determine the growth rate of the ice spikes. Water temperature was recorded throughout the freezing process, and the cooling rate was used to estimate a bulk heat transfer coefficient. Finally, a simple model, based on mass conservation, was derived and was found to give useful predictions of ice-spike growth rate.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-06-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.

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