Learning the language, one word at a time.

Frazil · (frāz′il)
Ice crystals formed from turbulent, often supercooled water, as in the open ocean or river rapids. Represents the first stage of sea ice formation.

The crystals usually only grow 3-4mm in diameter, since the movement caused by water currents interrupts crystal growth and prevents them from coagulating. The river (or section of the ocean) begins to have the appearance of a melted slushie as it becomes saturated with suspended ice crystals.

Under calmer conditions, as the water temperature begins to drop, the frazil ice clusters begin to form sheets of ice by clumping and freezing together. The new "pancake ice" formations are often rounded plates with raised edges, due to both frequent collisions and periodic compressions as they pass through wave troughs.

Photo by Lars Jensen.

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