‘Brinicle’ ice finger of death

A brinicle is the oceanic equivalent of an atmospheric icicle. Unlike an icicle, which is formed by the accumulation of layers of ice from a slow flow of water, a brinicle is formed beneath sea ice when a flow of extremely cold, salty water is introduced to an area of ocean water. Brinicles typically form in the polar regions due to the seasonally extreme cold surface temperature and salty nature of seawater.

With timelapse cameras, specialists have recorded a brinicle forming – salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking.

The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0°C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it.

Where the so-called “brinicle” met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish. Learn more here.

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