The Rotating Ice Circle

January 31, 2009

Freaky

When I first saw this video, I thought it was a hoax. And honestly, I’m still a little wary. But then again, I’ve seen weirder phenomena! This is an ice circle in a river. It’s rotating!

A massive 2000 ft spinning ice circle at Gaspe Bay, Canada.

Mystery has surrounded these discs since they were first described as long ago as the nineteenth century. A drawing of an ice circle was published in the Scientific American in 1895. Illustrated London News also catalogued one that formed near Toronto in 1930. Theories suggest that slow moving rivers can create eddies which spin the ice until it takes on a circular shape. Joe Desloges, a river specialist and geography professor at the University of Toronto, explained that the frozen circles are actually ice pans, or surface slabs of ice that form in the center of a lake or creek, instead of along the water’s edge. As water cools, it releases heat that turns into “frazil ice” – a collection of loose, needle shaped ice particles that can cluster together in an ice pan.

The news story about it is here.

Mr. Tyler, 49, photographed the mysterious rotating disk, which he called a “creek circle” as a tongue-in-cheek jab at crop circles, unusual designs that have randomly appeared in farmers’ fields, and posted it to the Flickr photo-sharing Web site. …

These close encounters can be explained by quick shifts in temperature, said Joe Desloges, a river specialist and geography professor at the University of Toronto.

Mr. Desloges explained that the frozen circles are actually ice pans, or surface slabs of ice that form in the center of a lake or creek, instead of along the water’s edge.

As water cools, it releases heat that turns into frazil ice – a collection of loose, needle shaped ice particles that can cluster together in an ice pan. If it accumulates enough frazil ice and the current is slow, over time, the pan can become a hanging dam – a dense, heavy piece of ice with high ridges and a low centre.

But he admits that the near-perfect circular shape of the Mississauga ice pan is very strange.

“Normally, you do not get edges of the ice pan so clean and even. It may occur when a pan forms quickly, then melts a bit before starting to refreeze,” he said. “There is the chance that these can form so perfectly, but not common at all.”

WEIRD! I think I would have freaked out if I came across such a thing while driving down the highway!

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