Frost Flowers: The Frost Awakens

January 6th, 2016 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The frost flower arrangement I made a time lapse video of last night.

The frost flower arrangement I made a time lapse video of last night.

It’s been over a year since I first found “frost flowers” growing in our backyard one chilly morning. This past summer I let the plants grow (I usually whack the weeds in the woods), and they grew over 6 feet tall, with Queen Anne’s lace-type white flowers at the top that bloom in the fall.

Due to El Nino, our warm winter has delayed the frost flower formation by about a month. The first ones showed up two nights ago, when it reached about 26 deg. F. Then last night I set up my camera for time lapse photos, even though the stems were partially shredded and it looked like the temperature might not dip below 30 deg. F, which is barely cold enough for the frost flowers to form.

But this morning there was a rather nice display. The following video compresses 12 hours into 30 seconds, from about 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Be sure to click on the full-screen icon, since this is high-def video, and you can watch the ribbons of ice grow.

So, what does this have to do with global warming, you ask? Well, if not for global warming, the temperature would have been 2 deg. F colder and the flowers would have been 15% bigger, of course.

Another casualty of human-caused climate change.

You can read more about the mechanism of frost flower formation here.

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