Weather - Pat Shingleton Column

Pat Shingleton: "Ripply Icicles..."

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Posted: Feb 3, 2014 6:02 PM by Pat Shingleton
Updated: Feb 4, 2014 4:00 AM
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Topics: Icicles. Salt.

Last week's freezing rain provided us with a few, small icicles. Weatherwise magazine reports that a "ripply" icicle was formerly caused by surface tension when a thin fold of water would flow over ice as it forms. According to physicists at the University of Toronto, rippled icicles are caused by salt. These scientists replicated the freezing process with distilled water, producing no ripples. They incubated 67 samples under a broad range of conditions. Pure distilled water and water with non-salt impurities produced smooth icicles however when salinity was introduced, the ripples were evident. This study could assist in ice accumulations on planes, ships and power lines. Mom scolded us when she saw us slurping icicles-salt or no salt.

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