We’ve seen all matter of snow and ice photography here on Colossal, as well as time-lapses of melting snow and snowdrawings, but this is the first video individual snowflakes forming I’ve ever come across. Created by filmmaker Vyacheslav Ivanov this microscopic short shows the intimate details of fragile snowflakes as they form in their miraculous hexagonal forms. Robert Gonzalez writing for iO9 gives us an idea of what we’re looking at:
The ice crystal(s) in snowflakes owe their six-fold rotational symmetry to the hydrogen bonds in water molecules. As water freezes, water molecules bound to other water molecules crystallize into a hexagonal structure, where each point on the hexagon is an oxygen atom and each side of the hexagon is a hydrogen bonded to an oxygen. As freezing continues, more water molecules are added to this microscopic six-sided structure, causing it to grow in size into the six-sided macroscopic structure that we recognize as snowflakes.
We have a line into Ivanov to see how he filmed this and will update as soon as we hear something. Music by Aphex Twin.
For the first time since 2009 Lake Superior has frozen thick enough to safely permit access to the ice caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin. An estimated 1,000 people are arriving daily to trek out to the islands for a glimpse of frozen caves which are covered in a cascade of icicles formed from water runoff and waves that splashed against the caves before the surface solidified. If the weather holds out, officials estimate the caves could remain open for another month. A huge thanks to Kelly Marquardt, Andy Rathbun and the Wisconsin Department of National Resources for sharing photos of the caves. (thnx, Amy!)
Update: Journalist Andy Rathbun who provided many of the photos above, now has his own article about the ice caves over on the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
A quick local news segue, the wintry assault here in Chicago as a result of the Polar Vortex has been bitterly cold and dangerous as temperatures plunged to historic lows over the last 48 hours. Despite the life threatening temperatures, it’s also been strangely beautiful. The landscape, especially along the Lake Michigan shore, has been transformed into an Arctic wonderland the locals are calling CHIBERIA. Here’s a collection of some of the best photos I’ve seen from Chicago’s most intrepid photogs who braved the absurd weather to snap a few amazing photographs. Am I missing any great shots? Get in touch. A huge thanks to all of the photographers for providing images for this post.
When I first saw this giant rotating ice disk spotted in North Dakota this week, I assumed it had to be some kind of human-created object, perhaps a new piece by famed land artist Andy Goldsworthy. The video above was shot by retired engineer George Loegering while hiking along the Sheyenne River. He estimates the rotating disk was some 55 feet in diameter and must have been forming for some time. The St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke with National Weather Service hydrologist Allen Schlag:
The cold, dense air—the air pressure Saturday in nearby Fargo was a record high for the city for the month of November, according to Gust—turned the river water into ice, but since the water was relatively warm it didn’t happen all at once. Floating bits of ice got caught in the eddy and started to spin in a circle.
“It’s not a continuous sheet of ice,” Schlag said. “If you were to throw a grapefruit-size rock on it, it would go through. It’s not a solid piece of ice—it’s a collection of ice cubes.”
Although extremely rare, ice disks do indeed appear naturally from time to time when conditions are perfect. Above are a few examples of people who have been lucky enough to stumble onto one while holding a camera. Learn more over on St. Paul Pioneer Press. (thnx Ben + all)
This amazing shot was captured last year by photographer Denis Budkov in an ice cave near the Mutnovsky volcano in an area of northern Russia. Known for an abundance of precipitation the area is often covered in several meters of snow and ice that cover mountain streams like this creating vast caves that look like something out of a science fiction movie. This particular cave was nearly 300m (980 ft.) long and several photographers in Budkov’s group also snapped a few amazing shots. The photographer also captured this jaw-dropping photo of some tourists in front of a volcanic explosion earlier this year. The power of depth of field, right? (via Russia Travel Blog)
We all know that as the seasons change on Earth, temperatures rise and fall, plants grow or die, ice forms or melts away. Perhaps nobody is more aware of this than NASA’s Visible Earth team who provide a vast catalog of images of our home planet as seen from space. Last month designer, cartographer, and dataviz expert John Nelson download a sequence of twelve cloud-free satellite imagery mosaics of Earth, one from each month, and then created a number of vivid animated gifs showing the seasonal changes in vegetation and land ice around the world.
Despite having encountered numerous seasonal timelapse videos shot here on Earth, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this visualized on such a large scale from space. It really looks like a heartbeat or the action of breathing. Read more over on Nelson’s blog, or see a much larger version of the gif here. (via Co.Design)
Even after living here for 14 years I’m always struck by the juxtaposition of Chicago’s towering steel skyline against the brutal midwest winter as it transforms the lakefront into an arctic landscape. Dave Gorum, co-founder and creative director over at Carbonmade, went out last week and shot some footage of the densely packed ice chunks as they sloshed around in Lake Michigan off Lake Shore Drive and then converted them into these great gifs. You can see more over on his Tumblr. (via tumblr radar)