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CINDY DAY: These pancakes are served cold

Carolyn Ryan captured this image at waterfalls in East Saint John, N.B.
Carolyn Ryan captured this image at waterfalls in East Saint John, N.B. - Contributed

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Mother Nature is quite an artist. 

From magnificent cloud formations to pastel sunsets, nature’s beauty is astounding.  Yesterday morning, I received a few awesome photos from Carolyn Ryan.  She said she saw these interesting ice formations Monday at waterfalls in East Saint John, N.B.  She had never seen anything like it but her friend told her it was “pancake ice.”  

Carolyn, your friend is right.    

Pancake ice is the name given to free floating and mainly circular pieces of ice that form when surface slush accumulates into floating pads.  While the temperature must be below zero, moderate wave activity doesn’t allow for a solid sheet of ice to form.  Cold air above the water solidifies their tops.  Many people are intrigued by their shape.  That shape is a result of collisions as they float about; the edges get bashed up from hitting each other and that leads to the raised rims.  During the jostling, slush gets splashed onto the edges and freezes, and that adds to the size and thickness of the pancakes.  The disks can range from 30 centimetres to three metres in diameter, depending on movement of the water and air temperature.  And there’s a reason they’re not called “crepes” – they’re quite thick. These pancakes can be up to 10 cm. in thickness.   

The “official” name is pancake ice, but I’ve heard these icy spheres referred to as “water lilies”; it’s a much prettier name for Mother Nature’s ice masterpieces.  

 

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