But can waves freeze over as word on the intertubes would have us believe? Sorry folks, if you’ve thought ‘yes’ then you’ve fallen prey to an urban myth.
Care to surf this wave?
Frozen waves are actually formed over time in a process called glaciation. Yup, they are nothing but beautifully shaped glaciers found all over the world – the polar regions of course but also in the mountain ranges of every continent, even in the tropics.
According to Wikipedia, a glacier is a “perennial mass of ice which moves over land.”
On its journey, glacial ice gets compacted and uplifted in the process and, as seen in the following images, often gets shaped beautifully through constant exposure to the elements.
And, quite contrary to intuition, the formations in the images shown here were formed through melting, not freezing…
…The downward parts on the ice that look like breaking waves are actually icicles, and the different colours are the result of how quickly the ice has frozen before melting
Like a wave but…
Rapidly frozen ice will look opaque, while transparent ice is the result of ice frozen over time. Melting then produces the smooth, polished surfaces that remind us of waves.
Did you know that glaciers are the largest reservoirs of fresh water on Earth? They form the second largest reservoir of total water on Earth, second only to the oceans. Amazing, isn’t it?
So what we call frozen waves or waves of ice are not only beautiful to look at but also important water resources crucial for human survival.