Inspired Travel: Ice Flowers in the North Pole

by  Amanda Black | Apr 14, 2013
Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean / Explora_2005/iStock

If you're willing to make the trek to the end of the world, you might get to see this phenomenon that a grad student at the University of Washington and his professor stumbled upon in the Arctic Ocean back in 2012: Ice Flowers!

Due to the extreme cold and dryness (it was actually colder in the air than in the water), the air pulled moisture off imperfections of the thin layer of ice over the water and bits of the ice vaporized. But, the cold makes the vapor heavy and the air can't hold that weight so crystals form as the water vapor turns back into ice. In other words, it looks like the sea is literally blossoming before your eyes.

But perhaps the most interesting part about these frost flowers, is that each one houses millions of microorganisms, serving as separate temporary ecosystems!

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