Monday, January 11, 2010

Cold Man River

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They say the Mississippi would freeze over here from time to time but I cant find out when that last happened. (Anyone know?) The first lock and dam is not far north of here. I doubt it has happened since that was built. The Missouri River is undamed for a long way upstream but I've never heard of it freezing solid at St. Charles, Jefferson City or Kansas City.

On Saturday I walked out onto Eads Bridge to see how the ice looked. I might have been staring into a giant petri dish. The ice comes downstream in swirling cells, riding the current, rotating individually and combining into primitive, chilly organisms. You have to drive up to the confluence of the great rivers to watch the mix. The Mississippi runs clear south of the lock and dam. The frozen cells come from the Missouri, spinning out into its partner like galaxies into the void. You can see a picture of this happening in an old post here. I have no idea how they form. Scientists, fill us in.

I did get some other shooting done over the weekend. STL DPB is running away with the circus TOMORROW.

17 comments:

Luis Gomez said...

Love these shots. They are truly beautiful.

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Fascinating, and beautiful. Your photo rekindles fresh thoughts of my childhood in St. Louis, as did a concert this past Saturday, when I heard Marvin Hamlisch perform Old Man RIver with the Phoenix Symphony.

Olivier said...

c'est beau, cela fait des dessins dans l'eau.. Je sais pas ou tu es positionné mais on dirait que tu es au niveau de l'eau

brattcat said...

Brrrrr. These have me shivering. But how amazing! Our ice doesn't form these cells as yours does. Why? I hope someone will answer. Thank you, Bob, for capturing and posting these.

Jackie said...

Wow, they're beautiful. I'm showing the ice on the Clyde in a couple of days time.

Re Groundskeeper Willie: I think most weegies think he's definitely not Glaswegian (I'm not a weegie myself so I keep out of the more heated discussions!). I'm not at all convinced it's an Aberdeen accent though.

U "R" Us said...

So cool! Did you go to the confluence too?

I gotta get out for some icy lakefront stuff. Will probably have to wait until after Death Valley!

cieldequimper said...

The confluence is really impressive. These shots here do look like cells or molecules, not that I know much about them. In the scond shot, they look like salt formations.

Anyway, they are beautiful.

River Notes said...

Often, when pondering the amazing amount of ice flowing down the Missouri River at times like these, folks will ask, "I wonder where that ice comes from?", usually imagining that it's being created in a certain place or kind of place then drifts down the river.

From what I gather, most of it is created everywhere in the river. Most of the ice is called frazil (or frazzle) ice. It is formed when small, needle-like ice crystals actually form in or on surface of the water as turbulence in the river causes some of the water to become supercooled, or just below freezing. These then begin to stick together, creating a slush. The current gathers the slush together and the frazil begins to freeze to each other. The tumbling action of the current and of slush blocks hitting each other and rolling off the banks and each other causes these circle "pancake ice" or "frazil pan" to form.

On very cold days, near zero, frazil sculptures can build up on the pans. As pans bump into each other, they may tilt up, then freeze to another pan, creating some of the towering iceberg structures.

On the Missouri, one of the most interesting things to me is how the ice appears white, despite the turbidity of the water.

Another ice formation you might see are large sheets of ice that break out of tributaries or in the eddies along the side of the river. If there is frozen border ice along the river and the river drops or rises dramatically, these sheets will break loose and go on down the river.

I've seen some as large as a row of barges. Awesome.

Here's a link to some basic river ice facts from the Army Corps of Engineers: http://www.crrel.usace.army.mil/ierd/ice_guide/iceguide.htm

Rambling Round said...

Super cool photos! I had no idea how ice freezes in a river.

Ed Pitts said...

Unique shots, very nice composition, too, especially the second pic.

Paula said...

Nice commentary Dr Crowe. I love all the snow photos and your ideas about snow on the river. Don't need no further explanation.

J Bar said...

Amazing capture.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

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Bibi said...

That DOES look like a close-up of a petri dish. Never seen anything like it. (Exept in a petri dish...)

Merry@St. Louis said...

I do love this...the photos and the phenomena. Happy winter!

Corinne in Forks said...

Great photos! My engineer husband tells me that another danger is when the ice gathers at the bridge abutments - it can gain enough mass to be a danger to the bridge. Then the Corps of Engineers has to go and blast the accumulated ice away before it topples the bridge. Ice is so fascinating and beautiful in its many forms, and can be so very dangerous!

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