A cold, windy atmosphere is a prescription for the creation of frazil. 

Frazil is a collection of loose, randomly oriented, tiny ice crystals that forms in supercooled turbulent water. The air temperature is usually well below -6 °C, something easily attained in the last few days. Then the lake water can become slightly supercooled, say by about -0.1 °C, and tiny ice crystals form in the water.

One might think that this would be a formula for border ice, but winds produce waves which prevent the formation of smooth ice on the surface, so the tiny crystals clump to form rafts of crystals floating on the water and these bump into one another to produce ridges that look like rims around pancakes.

Pancakes of frazil form along the lakeshore as waves prevent the formation of border ice.


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3 Responses to Frazil

  1. peter bartl says:

    Very interesting! always something new to learn from your blog. thanks.
    I don’t get a sense of scale from your picture. What are we looking at? peter bartl

  2. Denise Brownlie says:

    I have lived 80 years without knowing about Frazil ! “The time had come”. New words to
    describe what is around us are a delight to me. Thank you, Alistair.

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