Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Frozen Ice Balls of Lake Michighan

Winter is just approaching to the Lakeshore, and with it, all of nature's cold-weather beauty. West Michigan is no stranger to naturally occurring spectacle in the winter months. In the every winter, on the shores of Lake Michigan and on Stroomi beach in northern Tallinn, Estonia, myriads frozen ice balls form naturally.

Ice caverns form along its several piers and lighthouses, gusting wind and ice form strange sand formations on its beaches, and waves repeatedly pummel the shoreline, freezing anything close by in place. Thus, the Ice balls range from a few inches to more than feet across. So, the ice balls form when chunks of ice break off the huge ice sheets that coat parts of the lake in the winter, and as the waves toss the ice blocks around the lake, additional ice forms around them in layers and the ice blocks gets bigger and bigger just like snowballs or hailstones.

The pounding of the waves shape the ice into spheres. Moreover, a related phenomenon is seen on Stroomi beach on the Gulf of Finland. The ice balls can be seen tumbling in the waves, and gradually merging with each other to form larger pieces. If the phenomenon continues, waves will ultimately push the larger, fully-formed ice balls to shore. According to the German news portal Spiegel Online, a very precise condition is required for ice balls to form. Because the sea must also be flat, and the base must not drop precipitously. These surroundings prevail on the Gulf of Finland against Estonia. 

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