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Talking Ice
March 14, 2006 15:14

What language does ice speak? It turned out to be the language of its own electromagnetic radiation. Radio-frequency radiation accompanies glacier movements, avalanching and ice cracks extension, in other words, every change in ice and snow structure. If one learns to understand the ice "language", then he may predict the way large masses of ice and snow behave, the scientists from Tambov State University think. The researchers have grown ice under various temperature conditions and filmed the crystallization process.

Water usually has many alloys and ice particles tend to grow around them despite water temperature. But the habit of the crystal changes, depending on original water surfusion. The scientists discovered that when water temperature isn't very low, each growing snowflake, which is a crystal, has bizarre dendroid structure. The faster the temperature falls, the slower lateral branches of a crystal grow, and the faster grows the stem, turning the snowflake into a needle. When the freeze is quick, the whole volume of water turns into one thin blade.

During crystal growth the scientists have measured electromagnetic radiation signals near ice and water and detected two types of electromagnetic pulse. The researchers have compared these pulses to crystal growth recordings.

The pulse of first type appeared to be caused by formation of ice grains, their collisions and lateral branch formation. The second pulse type belongs to secondary processes, following crystallization - growth cracks extension, friction, flaking off tank walls, where ice was formed. The researchers have discovered that pulse shape, succession and amplitude-frequency response allow reliable measurements of ice formation speed and which ice structure appears. The scientists have come up with computer database of "electric pictures" of some important crystallization stages, i.e. "ice language vocabulary".

Why did they pay attention to water crystallization and ice cracks? Because ice self-radiation can help to explain some effects of atmospheric electricity. When overchilled water drops are freezing in the atmosphere, they generate electromagnetic pulses - flicker noise, which jam medium and long radio waves in the atmosphere. Many dielectric materials freeze similar to ice, thus electromagnetic radiation of their crystallization allows controlling crystal growth and detecting cracks and other defects in growing crystals.

The scientists consider this ice cracks detection technique to make on-line monitoring of geophysical objects, containing large amounts of ice and snow (glaciers and avalanches), possible. It will help predicting avalanching in hazard areas. Electromagnetic language of river ice is likely to tell seamen about forthcoming navigation period.


Tags: Russian Scientists     

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