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No. 100: Jul-Aug 1995

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Weird Icicles

Prism-like vertical icicle growing from a birdbath in Sussex
Prism-like vertical icicle growing from a birdbath in Sussex, December 21, 1992.
The British journal Weather has published two more photos of upside-down icicles. We reproduce one that is typical of the genre. [Another growing at an angle from a birdbath is sketched on SF#79.] In the formation of such icicles, liquid water is somehow forced upward from a reservoir through a central channel. As it reaches the top, it freezes. If this is indeed the mechanism, why do these upside-down icicles usually form crystal-like prisms with flat sides?

(Bjørbaek, Gustav; "Unusual Ice Formations," Weather, 50:188, 1995.)

Delightfully, the plot becomes more twisted with a beautiful horizontal helical icicle that was photographed in New Zealand. This truly strange icicle looks like a horizontal bedspring 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. There are eight complete turns in the helix. It has grown several times from a hairline crack in a handrail support which fills with water during a rainstorm.

(Dowden, Richard, et al; "Helical Icicle," Weather, 49:435, 1994.)

From Science Frontiers #100, JUL-AUG 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss