Frost Flower Growing Time Lapse

November 19th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

When I left the house for work yesterday morning, I saw what looked like tissues on the ground in the woods behind our house. They were something I’ve never witnessed before — “frost flowers”. They only form from a relatively few kinds of weeds in the fall or early winter when there is enough moisture in the soil (we just had two inches of rain) and it gets cold quickly (the temperature dipped to 21 deg. F overnight). Water “wicks up” through the stem (which appears to split) and turns to ice, which slowly grows into delicate ribbons.

It this case it looks like they formed on the “frost weed” (White Crownbeard), and there were about a dozen of them of different shapes, generally several inches across.

I set up my camera and tripod at 8:30 a.m. and collected 6.5 hours of photos which I made into this time lapse video, which is 900 times faster than real time. The ice flower can be seen to still be slowly growing, until it warmed enough for the flower to fall apart. I cut the video off before I noticed new ice starting to grow out the stem again.

Click on the full-screen icon for the best viewing…the video is high-definition.


15 Responses to “Frost Flower Growing Time Lapse”

Toggle Trackbacks

  1. Don Young says:

    Please repost. Video not working on site–at least with google chrome browser,

  2. O Olson says:

    The people who notice, take note of, and wonder at the small as well as the big things in the “real” world outside of their labs, offices and iphones, and carry that into their thinking about the “bigger picture” are the people I hold in highest esteem. Thanks for this and everything else you do.

    • jimc says:

      “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” – Isaac Newton
      (JohnKl, Newton’s got some good ones too.)

    • O HDahlsveen says:

      O Olson; I can only echo your thoughts.

  3. ren says:

    Dr. Roy Spencer,as I wrote you can already see the next wave in the stratosphere, which for about a week will cause another wave of arctic air on America. The attack will be as sudden as the previous one. Reach the rapid freezing after a few days of thaw.
    It is connected with a very large increase in the galactic radiation.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_WAVE1_MEAN_OND_NH_2014.gif

  4. BBould says:

    Awesome video!

  5. CoRev says:

    That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of them.

  6. Thanks, Dr. Spencer.
    I had never seen an Ice Flower, did not know they existed.
    Winter wonders!

  7. annarborpam says:

    Thank you! While its good to learn something new every day (ice flowers), it’s awesome when it also connected with weather.

  8. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Unbelievable.
    I never seen anything like that before.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Have a nice day.

    Massimo

  9. RidgetopSaint says:

    We get these “Frost Flowers” every year in TN. I first moved here in 1986 and when I saw them I called them “Styrofoam Ice” as they looked like Styrofoam thrown all over the woods. I like my name for them better.

  10. Kimbal says:

    Thank you! I grew up along the Lake Michigan lake shore (St. Joseph and then Shoreham, Michigan) and then moved to South Bend, Indiana. We saw lots of lake effect snow…but I never saw a frost flower before. What an interesting phenomenon! Thanks also for this blog and the great job you do to educate people about weather and put the lie to global warming alarmists!