There are no limits to the powers of nature. We live on an amazing planet surrounded by incredible natural forces that are not only beautiful,
but sometimes very frightening.
Scientists have never been able to see the terrifying phenomenon Ice Finger of Death before. At least not until now...
The never-before-seen icy finger of death evokes feelings of awe and terror.
This creepy 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.
How does a brinicle form?
"Freezing sea water doesn't make ice like the stuff you grow in your freezer. Instead of a solid dense lump, it is more like a
seawater-soaked sponge with a tiny network of brine channels within it.
The brinicle that causes destruction resembles a finger and is called "ice finger of death." Image credit: BBC
In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C.
Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into
the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath.
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.
The ice finger phenomenon evokes a feeling of amazement and as well as fear. Image credit: BBC
Brinicles are found in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, but it has to be relatively calm for them to grow as
long as the ones the Frozen Planet team observed," explained Dr Mark Brandon Polar oceanographer, at the Open University.
Caught on film for the first time ever in Antarctica
The unusual phenomenon was filmed for the first time by cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson for the BBC One series Frozen Planet.
Capturing the event on tape was not an easy task. The crew battled brutal conditions, technical challenges, and even seal attacks.
"Because there have been so few studies on the brinicles, it's really, really difficult to tell when and exactly how they are going to form," Kathryn Jeffs,
"Frozen Planet" producer explained. "They do have a tendency to form when the ice is being disrupted, or in extremely cold conditions, which disrupt the inner channels and sets in motion the flow of brine."
The movie was made beneath the ice off the foothills of the volcano Mount Erebus, in water as cold as -2C, a remote volcano in Antarctica.
"That particular patch was difficult to get to. It was a long way from the hole and it was quite narrow at times between the sea bed
and the ice," explained Mr Miller.
"I do remember it being a struggle... All the kit is very heavy because it has to sit on the sea bed and not move for long periods of time."
As well as the practicalities of setting up the equipment, the filmmakers had to contend with interference from the local wildlife.
The large weddell seals in the area had no problems barging past and breaking off brinicles as well as the filming equipment.
"The first time I did a timelapse at the spot a seal knocked it over," said Mr Miller.
But the team's efforts were eventually rewarded with the first ever footage of a brinicle forming.
In this clip, Sir David Attenborough describes the first ever footage of the unusual formation. Credit: BBC - Frozen Planet
"It was pretty emotional when we saw that we got it," Kathryn Jeffs said, adding that some of the crew were close to tears.
"We're really proud of the achievement."
One cannot help to feel sorry for the animals that encountered the icy finger of death, but the forces of nature can be not only amazing, but often brutal.
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we come across very strange, unidentified objects.
Looking at this odd construction, one has to ask - Who installed this object at the bottom of the ocean?
Explore The Lost World Of Lake Vostok
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They've found one of the largest lakes in the world. It's very existence defies belief.
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Mystery of Antarctica Deepens
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Some think the Pandora Box may soon be opened. Is the world prepared?
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Some believe there could be ruins of an ancient lost civilization, or even a UFO that crashed on our planet long ago.
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