Fascinating Ice Patterns

February 05, 2021


Photographer: Wayne Robinson 
Summary Authors: Wayne Robinson; Jim Foster

On a winter’s, morning walk along the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis spur trail, I saw these fascinating patterns in the ice at the edge of a nearby pond. The low temperature overnight had dropped to about 27 F (-3 C), and the icy surface looked so unworldly that it might be mistaken for the surface of one of Jupiter’s moons. Explaining just how such patterns occur is always challenging. It seems, though, that in shallow water when air temperatures fall just below the freezing point, ice crystals form thin sheets that grow at similar rates but often at different angles. Slight differences in stress on the ice, from above and below the surface, can lead to an odd quilt-work of patterns that may please the eye but also baffles the mind. Note that the entire image width here covers approximately 2 feet (0.6 m). Photo taken on December 30, 2020.

Photo Details: Canon 80D DSLR camera; Canon f/5.6 70-300 mm lens; f/11; 244 mm fl; 1/100 sec. exposure; ISO 400