How to

23 January 2017

Emergence of Bizarre ‘Ice Spikes’ Confuses UK Residents as Temperatures Drop

We’ve written before about some of the more unusual forms in which ice can appear; from ribbons to pancakes to fields of penitentes, these formations can be mesmerising in their sheer beauty. Recently however, the widespread appearance of one such phenomenon has caused such high levels of confused conversation on Twitter that the MET Office had to step in with an explanation.

For those not clued up on how exactly ice is formed it’s easy to see why this could be somewhat baffling; the ice seems to freeze upward, defying the pull of gravity as it extends. As it turns out, some very specific conditions are needed to create the ice spikes.

The MET Office explains that such spikes form due to the way in which water freezes – from the outside-in. This allows the ice to ‘climb’ as internal pressure forces water upwards toward a hole or weak spot.

The MET Office’s full explanation is as follows (in written or GIF form):

“Ice spikes form as a result of the way water freezes, from the outside in. As the 'skin' of the ice thickens, liquid water remains in the middle. If a weakness or hole appears in the ice skin, liquid water gets squeezed up through the hole. This then forms the spike and the process continues until the tip of the spike freezes. For an ice spike to form, air conditions must be just right – if it is too cold, the water will freeze too quickly. A breeze in the air will also help the process.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.