Ice Crystal Collection from the French Alps

January 28, 2015


: Jean-francois Coliac  
Summary Authors: Jean-francois Coliac; Jim Foster 

January 2015 Viewer's Choice
Shown above is a montage of frost and ice crystals photographed from Villard-de-Lans in the French Alps on December 24, 2014. The feathery frost crystals at bottom left were captured on the windshield of a car, but the others were all observed in shaded areas of rock outcrops. They formed during successive cold, clear nights. When groundwater seeps toward the surface it will quickly freeze if it comes in contact with a sub-freezing, near-surface soil layer. The hydrostatic pressure of the groundwater below forces the newly-frozen ice above the ground surface. Most of the resulting ice crystals have needle or columnar shapes, but other shapes on occasion are seen as well -- all are six-sided, though. After rain on the 25th, the crystals were less noticeable and they disappeared completely after the 26th.
Photo details: All images taken with Canon 1100D camera and macrophoto lens (x1,5)+ monopod.