Lake Michigan Ice Balls Recurrence

February 04, 2014

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KAScott_20140101_6598-MsnPhotographer: Ken Scott; Ken’s Flickr site
Summary Author: Ken Scott

Ferbuary 2014 Viewer's Choice The photo at top shows a crop of ice balls just deposited from the frigid waters of Lake Michigan during the polar vortex event of January 6-8. These nearly spherical concretions accumulated along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, on the northeastern shore of Lake Michigan. The ones featured here are somewhat smaller than the basketball-sized spheres that blanketed the shore last winter.

Ice balls form where water turbulence breaks up a layer of slush. Click here for animation. Slushy ice mattes and frazil ice accrete in the wind-whipped supercooled water. The mattes eventually form into rounded lumps and will continue to grow until big waves push them on shore or until they end up in a protected inlet - photo at left.

Photo details: Camera Model: NIKON D600; Lens: 24.0-85.0 mm f/3.5-4.5; Focal Length: 28.0mm (35mm equivalent: 28mm); Aperture: f/11.0; Exposure Time: 3.000 s; ISO equiv: 800; Software: Photomatix Pro 5.0.