Friday, November 25, 2011

Brinicle, anyone?

This is absolutely amazing and is the FIRST-EVER footage of a brinicle forming. My inner marine biologist is all a-flutter.

Where “Brinicle” met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish. In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath.

“That particular patch was difficult to get to. It was a long way from the hole and it was quite narrow at times between the sea bed and the ice,” explained Mr Miller.

“I do remember it being a struggle… All the kit is very heavy because it has to sit on the sea bed and not move for long periods of time.”

As well as the practicalities of setting up the equipment, the filmmakers had to contend with interference from the local wildlife.

The large weddell seals in the area had no problems barging past and breaking off brinicles as well as the filming equipment.

“The first time I did a timelapse at the spot a seal knocked it over,” said Mr Miller.

But the team’s efforts were eventually rewarded with the first ever footage of a brinicle forming.

Filmed by cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson for the BBC


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