Pancake Ice on the Leland River in Michigan

April 15, 2011

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Photographer: Ken Scott 
Summary Authors: Ken Scott; Jim FosterApril 2011 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

The photo above showing saucer shaped cakes of ice was taken on the Leland River in Michigan. This is a type of ice known appropriately as pancake ice. The cakes can be rounded, oblong or irregularly shaped aggregations, ranging from several inches to several feet in diameter but typically less than about four inches (10 cm) in thickness. They’re formed from accumulations of frazil ice in relatively fast flowing water. Note the slightly upturned edges, which are the result of repeated impacts with other cakes. The raised rims on small ice chunks amid otherwise unconsolidated icings is often a clue that the formation of pancake ice is underway. Click here to see a time-lapse animation of pancake ice formation. Photo taken near Leland, Michigan on March 25, 2011.

Photo Details: Camera Model: NIKON D300; Focal Length: 13.0mm (35mm equivalent: 19mm); Aperture: f/7.1; Exposure Time: 0.0006 s (1/1600); ISO equiv: 200.