Pancake Ice

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Exploring Tom Gill’s mesmerizing pictures of frozen icy world led me to discover a peculiar kind of ice today. Pancake Ice is circular in shape, and can range from 30 centimeters to 3 meters in diameter, and up to 10 centimeters in thickness. Pancake Ice is formed when temperatures hover right around zero degrees with at least moderate wave activity. Usually, it starts with a thin film of slush on the top of agitated water (sometimes called grease ice) that breaks up into circular sections. Collisions as they float about lead to the raised rims, either from the edges getting bashed up from bonking into each other, or from the slush that gets splashed onto the edges and freezes to gradually form a rim. Sometimes pancake ice forms at some depth, at an interface between water bodies of different physical characteristics, from where it floats to the surface; its appearance may rapidly cover wide areas of water.

See other strange ice formations: Penitentes and Snow Roller

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