The brinicle – Ice stalactite, the incredible Frozen Finger of Death!!
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What is a brinicle?
A brinicle (brine icicle, also known as ice stalactite) forms beneath sea ice when a flow of extremely cold, saline water is introduced to an area of ocean water, being the undersea equivalent of a hollow stalactite or icicle.
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. It is an underwater ‘icicle of death’ which sinks to the seabed destroying everything it comes into contact with has been caught on camera for the first time.
The sinking brine is so cold that it causes the seawater to freeze around it.
BBC film crews recorded the brinicle for the first time ever as it sunk to the bottom of the sea in Antarctica.
How is a Brinicle formed?
The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle.
Why does the sea not freeze?
Ocean water freezes just like freshwater, but at lower temperatures. Fresh water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit but seawater freezes at about 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit , because of the salt in it. When seawater freezes, however, the ice contains very little salt because only the water part freezes.
What happens when the seas freezes?
The reason has to do with the behavior of ocean water when it freezes. When salt water freezes, much of the salt is expelled from the ice or gets trapped in pockets of salty liquid water within the ice. Eventually, most of the salt makes its way into the water just under the ice.