Ice Patterns

Ice patterns on Binnewater Lake.

Periods of freezing and thawing can leave complicated patterns in ice, as seen in this aerial photo of Binnewater Lake in New York. Ice rarely forms evenly on large bodies like this, so there are always underlying weaknesses. A hard freeze may have caused the ice to contract, forming the initial radial pattern. Then warmer periods of melting allowed water to rise into the cracks and expand them. As the process repeats, the visible pattern emerges.

Also note the star-like crack patterns near the shore. These may have formed in spots where something like a stick protruding from the water’s surface allowed warmer water up onto the ice to melt the snow sitting atop it. (Image credit: D. Spitzer; via EPOD; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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