STEM Photography Winner!

Congratulations to Nathaniel Wylie in Year 12 who won the QUB Junior STEM Photography Competition. An excellent achievement and amazing photo!
 
Ice Formations - Junior Competition
1st Place - Nathaniel Wylie
 
While hiking in the Glens I noticed these amazing ice formations. My initial thought was that I just had to take a closer look. As a GCSE student I could appreciate that there was much more going on to form these icicles than just some water freezing.
 
The process begins when snow forms in the clouds and falls to the ground. The sun melts the snow which is absorbed into the peat (adding impurities to the water) and from there water moves to the edges of the bogs where it reaches branches of heather. Next the water runs down the heather which acts as scaffolding and, thanks to sub-zero temperatures, freezes on the plant. This forms an ice shaft, on top of which an icicle can grow. Slowly thin layers of water will run down the ice shaft and freeze. This process increases the size of the icicle. ?
 
?In almost all natural icicles you will notice distinctive ridges. These are usually about 1cm apart but their height can vary. Ripples form around the circumference of icicles due to a morphological instability. Icicles formed in nature are rarely constructed using pure water but ones that are do not exhibit ripples. Icicles formed with water that has ionic impurities will exhibit ripples. The concentration of the impurity will not affect the size of the ripples or how fast the ripples form. Icicles are fascinating and studying them can lead to a deeper understanding of water, how it moves and… how it freezes.
Find our more by visiting the STEM Junior Photography Competition webpage.
Nathaniel Wylie's STEM photography entry - Ice Formations while hiking in the Antrim Glens. Photograph shows Icicles forming on a hedgerow at the side of a snow coloured field.