Watching ice melt

In 2012 there were several news items about extreme large-scale melting events, the most memorable among which the Greenland ice sheet surface melt and the Arctic sea ice summer minimum. Observing ice melting on a smaller scale can be impressive, too, not to mention instructive. This thought was prompted by seeing multiple blog posts refering to the thawing-out of a large multi-level cold storage facility in Chicago, which was decommissioned and sold for future use as an office building. The process resembles the defrosting of a giant neglected freezer and at the same time melt pools are perfectly visible:

(Before the big thaw, a photographer had the opportunity to capture the ice formations and has published some pictures online.)

It may be shallow, but I love time lapse as a visualization tool. Back to nature, here is more. For example, we can look at only a small piece of Greenland such as a fjord and watch the spring melt of Kobbefjord, about 25 km from Nuuk.

In the north, the defining event of spring is called break-up: the moment when the ice goes out. Break-up transforms unpaved roads and tails into mud puddles for a week, but for rivers, it is over in a day. Some places run annual lotteries based on bets of the exact moment, down to the minute. Lately, the site has done a great job posting images of the Yukon River at Dawson City, where the Klondike River enters. Particularly impressive this 2011 time lapse of the day the river went out. My heart does a skip right in the middle:

It is easy to understand how dangerous break-up is every year for the communities that border the great rivers. The destruction of Eagle Village in May 2009 by a moving ice jam and flooding of the Yukon River remains as a stark reminder.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s