Mount Washington’s Iceberg
2015-05-22 17:10:10.000 – Will Hatheway, Intern
When hiking around Mount Washington you never know what you will find given our dramatic weather. While hiking on the trails, one of our summer interns came across this large ice block frozen in a basement. To give you a perspective on the size of this giant ice block, it comes just two feet shy of the top of the basement and fills the whole room. Now how would you like to come home to your basement filled with this? Unfortunately this ice block will not be melting anytime soon without the help of some sledge hammers and ice chisels. Due to the size of ice, it will affect the surrounding air temperature keeping it below freezing and the core of the ice solid. In addition, since the basement is well insulated the whole basement acts like a giant freezer. Here is an interesting fact; before modern technology, sailing ships would freeze the bottom of their hulls to keep their storage fresh. Also large blocks of ice were shipped on wagons so that they would still remain frozen upon arrival.
Of course one of the most fascinating things about this picture is the layers of ice and their different colors. Water is a fascinating substance by how the properties of freezing change according to temperatures. When water freezes near 32F/0C, it takes on a whitish color due to the crystalline structure of the ice. Towards the bottom of the ice it is clear like glass. This occurs when water freezes well below the freezing level and the crystalline structure is very organized. We can actually use these layers to help identify when in time they froze. During the early part of winter, Mount Washington was very cold with several weeks at or below zero. Having that knowledge we can then determine that the ice clear block occurred during that time and then each layer afterward could be connected to an event.
Will Hatheway, Intern