Needle ice. Who knew?

A cool video of “needle ice,” from Medicine Lake in Minnesota.

From wikipedia:

Needle ice is a phenomenon that occurs when the temperature of the soil is above 0 °C (32 °F) and the surface temperature of the air is below 0 °C (32 °F). The subterranean liquid water is brought to the surface via capillary action, where it freezes and contributes to a growing needle-like ice column.

The ice needles are typically a few centimetres long. While growing, they may lift or push away small soil particles. On sloped surfaces, needle ice may be a factor contributing to soil creep.


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9 Responses to “Needle ice. Who knew?”

  1. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I still find it funny to see guys running around in shorts while it snows. No one seems to ever wear a hat unless they are participating in outdoor sports. I usually don’t button my coat when it’s warmer than minus five degrees, and I’m only a transplanted Minnesotan.

  2. BeccaM says:

    I know. I’m surprised it isn’t an automatic default feature to capture full-width video, even when the phone is being held upright, as opposed to rotating and clipping.

  3. You know, I finally realize that it’s because we normally hold thephone upright that so many videos are taken upright, it just seems natural.

  4. Tor says:

    I saw this in the Sierra Foothills last year. It was a very pleasant day, and the ice was forming only in shady areas. In the sun, it was not cold at all.

  5. Drew2u says:


  6. citizen_spot says:

    OK, so if needle ice occurs when soil temp is above 0 C and the surface temp of air is below 0 C, then how come those folks in the video are in short sleeve shirts? Did Wiki get this backwards? Because it certainly seems that the air is not below freezing. What am I not getting here?

  7. BeccaM says:

    Neato. I love science. :-)

    And finally someone remembering to hold their smartphone video camera sideways, although I think they had their thumb over the audio pickup.

  8. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Our winters may be spectacular, but they’re long and cold. I guess we have to pay for the beauty.

  9. hidflect says:

    Wow. I’m jealous. That would be the coolest thing ever. Damn, sorry. No pun was intended, seriously.

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