Timelapse Video: Enormous

Timelapse Video: Enormous

Alisa Opar
Published: 12/08/2011


 
The “icicle of death” sounds like something out of a horror flick: A growing column of frozen water extends toward bustling life below, freezing solid in a web of ice everything on the ground that it touches. These so-called “brinicles” really do exist, forming beneath sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. And for the first time ever cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson filmed the remarkable phenomenon in action under the ice at Little Razorback Island, near Antarctica's Ross Archipelago, for the BBC One series “Frozen Planet.”
  
The mesmerizing video above, shot over several hours, shows the brinicle as it stretches from from the surface to the sea floor, ensnaring sea urchins and starfish there in its frigid embrace.
 
From the BBC:

The icy phenomenon is caused by cold, sinking brine, which is more dense than the rest of the sea water. It forms a brinicle as it contacts warmer water below the surface.
 
"When we were exploring around that island we came across an area where there had been three or four [brinicles] previously and there was one actually happening," Mr Miller told BBC Nature. The diving specialists noted the temperature and returned to the area as soon as the same conditions were repeated.
 
"It was a bit of a race against time because no-one really knew how fast they formed," said Mr Miller. "The one we'd seen a week before was getting longer in front of our eyes... the whole thing only took five, six hours."

 
Read the rest of the story here.
  
For more on other frozen masses—icebergs—check out our story “Life on Ice,” by Jeff Rubin. It explores how scientists are discovering that icebergs, long considered barren masses, actually sustain all sorts of ocean life, from seabirds above to krill below. They may even play a role in fighting climate change.