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Frost Flowers
December 18, 2012 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Frost Flowers: "...they are made of such thin sheets of ice, they will melt away as the sun rises higher in the sky. You may get frost flowers again the following day, but unless the conditions are just right the chances are your first glimpse may be your last."
posted by OmieWise (30 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't quite understand how that is possible to create these in just one night, but my god those are incredible and amazing looking.
posted by mathowie at 11:13 AM on December 18, 2012


I thought this was a double of the arctic ice flowers and I am so glad it isn't because THESE ARE SUPER AWESOME.
posted by elizardbits at 11:15 AM on December 18, 2012


They look like spun sugar--very beautiful! Thank you for sharing.
posted by agatha_magatha at 11:19 AM on December 18, 2012


These are amazing, thanks for linking.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2012


This is awesome. I took some photos of frost flowers (didn't know this had a name) on a hike last winter in the Columbia river gorge. Thanks!
posted by rainperimeter at 11:30 AM on December 18, 2012


I thought this would be about window frost or ice flowers, when you have a badly isolated single pane window and a cold, cold night and the inside gets covers in frost.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2012


Those are gorgeous. I've never seen one - unless I didn't know what I was looking at. Definitely keeping eyes peeled next time I'm in the woods.

Edit: forgot the link to wikipedia, since I was skeptical. :)
posted by yoga at 11:44 AM on December 18, 2012


Extremely awesome.
posted by marginaliana at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2012


These are beautiful!

When I first saw the post I wondered if it was going to be about a different phenomenon I remember from my childhood. Certain leaves would get covered in a thin sheet of ice. If you were careful, you could slip the ice off of the leaf and have, for a brief moment, a perfectly-sculpted leaf made entirely of ice.
posted by treepour at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Even more beautiful than hoar frost, which completely blew me away the first time I saw it.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:14 PM on December 18, 2012


Cool!
posted by b33j at 12:16 PM on December 18, 2012


These are very beautiful. Assume that this results in death or damage to the plant?
posted by arcticseal at 12:19 PM on December 18, 2012


German phrase is Haareis, Hair Ice, and such a lot of pictures they have of them
posted by BWA at 12:25 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Really beautiful. Would these be fractal in nature?
posted by marienbad at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2012


Wow, so so cool. Grew up in a winter-having region and yet have never heard of or seen this.
posted by threeants at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ethereal and lovely. Thank you.
posted by Splunge at 1:10 PM on December 18, 2012


German phrase is Haareis, Hair Ice, and such a lot of pictures they have of them

Heh, my first thought was 'Frost flowers? No, *Ghost Hair!*'
posted by FatherDagon at 1:49 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


They really do look exactly like pulled sugar. Uncannily, hypnotically so.

*resumes bug-eyed staring*
posted by bakerina at 3:04 PM on December 18, 2012


This appears to be mostly a linkjack from:

Ice Ribbons, Ice Flowers, Frost Flowers or whatever they might be called

by Dr. James R. Carter, Professor Emeritus
Geography-Geology Department
Illinois State University
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:54 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, these are amazing. Incredible the volume of water/sap that is getting pushed through those stems in one night.

charlie don't surf's link has some great historical stuff on this phenomenon.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:04 PM on December 18, 2012


Thanks! I've only seen this in Ladakh, India, basically in the Himalayas while on a trek, but it's fresh in my mind 25 years later.
posted by msalt at 5:58 PM on December 18, 2012


I strongly doubt that it's "sap". All those photos show stems of plants that are dead already. I imagine they're actually hollow and collect moisture that then exudes through fissures.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:17 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those are incredible. I wonder if there's ever been an ask.me question about them? ("What is this alien ice structure I found this morning and how did it get there?)
posted by lollusc at 6:21 PM on December 18, 2012


I have always wanted to see one (or more!) of these. So lovely.
posted by empatterson at 10:45 PM on December 18, 2012


Definitely not sap, because they evaporate in the sun pretty quickly.

I found a photo of one I saw in Ladakh, back in 1987.
posted by msalt at 11:49 PM on December 18, 2012


I'm puzzled. I grew up in Michigan and lived 6 years in an even colder place. I spend a lot of time outdoors. I'm quite observant. Yet I've never seen this phenomenon, unless I thought it was something else.
posted by Goofyy at 4:31 AM on December 19, 2012


This appears to be mostly a linkjack from:

Ice Ribbons, Ice Flowers, Frost Flowers or whatever they might be called

by Dr. James R. Carter, Professor Emeritus
Geography-Geology Department
Illinois State University


It does. That link doesn't have as many pictures, but it does have more interesting stuff in the text.
posted by OmieWise at 5:04 AM on December 19, 2012


I see these from time to time, most commonly in dirt (like these); living in the woods helps. We have had some much-needed rain lately with more tomorrow, and it is suposed to get down to 30 degrees (F) Friday morning, which should make for good condtions.
posted by TedW at 7:11 AM on December 19, 2012


That link doesn't have as many pictures, but it does have more interesting stuff in the text.

Look around his site, he has a lot of different pages with tons of photos.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:54 PM on December 19, 2012


Professors emeriti are awesome when they just do what the hell they want and when what they want is awesome. I see curls of ice like this in soil, but I haven't ever seen it from a plant stem or similar organics. Maybe I will now that I'm looking!

Dr. Carter mentioned Gerhart Wagner for research on fungal involvement. Here's a technical report that makes a pretty good case that "hair ice" (as opposed to "ice flowers" and "needle ice") is related to the presence of a fungus or fungi. A next step in hair ice fungus research might be to inoculate it onto a previously sterilized piece of wood, and see that trigger the production of hair ice...

Gerhart Wagner, "Hair Ice on Rotten Wood of Broadleaf Trees – a Biophysical Phenomenon":
Hair-ice or ice-wool formations (Figures 1-6, 11-12, 18) on rotten and wet branches of leaf wood (beech Fagus, oak Quercus, and others) can appear at temperatures slightly below 0C. [...] we distinguish hair ice from related forms, such as ice ribbons or ice flowers (Figure 7), and needle ice (Figure 8). In contrast to ice needles and ribbons, hair ice appears to be related to a special fungus activity. We tested the fungus hypothesis of Wegener (1918), and we succeeded in reproducing hair ice (Figure 15) during many frost nights on beech-wood samples, which had been collected in different forests in Switzerland. Treatments of wood samples by heat (boiling water), alcohol, and most effectively by a fungicide, suppressed the hair-ice formation (Figures 16-17).
posted by away for regrooving at 12:23 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


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