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Centre for Atmospheric Science

Frost Flowers

Frost flowers
Frost flowers on an artificial lead created during the COBRA project. Frost flowers are vapour grown crystals which form on the layer of concentrated brine which occurs on the surface of recently formed sea ice. The crystal habits of the frost flowers are determined by the temperature and vapour gradients while they are forming. Liquid brine gets onto the surface of the crystals by capillary action resulting in an ion concentration up to three times that of sea water. Frost flowers are also thought to be a source of salty aerosol, as the crystals are fragile and easily broken and lifted up by the wind.