U of T physicist Stephen Morris and PhD candidate Anthony Szu-Han Chen recently released research that illuminates how icicles form.

The research was conducted by creating icicles in a lab and observations were recorded using digital imaging. Icicles often include ripples,  described in popular media as “Michelin Man-like.”. Morris and Chen’s research showed that salt is the cause of these irregularities.

Morris and Chen used different variations of Toronto tap water and distilled water, with and without sodium added, to conduct their research. Pure distilled water showed no ripple growth, whereas the addition of saltier water produced more prominent ripples.

The research, though initiated because of pure fascination and curiosity,  may be able to help with the problematic accumulation of ice on airplanes and power lines, among other practical applications.

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