‘Brinicle’ Ice Finger Of Death Filmed in Antarctic For The First Time [Video]

An underwater ‘icicle of death’ which sinks to the sea bed destroying everything it meets has been caught on camera by BBC for the first time.

A new video by BBC shows a brinicle’s entire formation process on the ocean floor. It is an underwater icicle, also called “finger of death,” freezes everything that comes into contact.

Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson have shot a video for the BBC’s “Frozen Planet,” which is apparently the first of its kind. It was recorded with the help of a special time-lapse camera that caught this sinking brine’s formation.

The temperature of a web of ice was about below 0C, causing the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it. Reaching the sea bed, the brinicle made frozen everything it had touched, including sea urchins and starfish.

Dr Mark Brandon, a Polar oceanographer of the Open University, explained: “The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. “

He continued: “This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle.”

BBC commented on the video, “The icy phenomenon is caused by cold, sinking brine, which is more dense than the rest of the sea water. It forms a brinicle as it contacts warmer water below the surface.”

Dr Brandon agreed: “In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom.”

He continued: “The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath.”

They can be usually found in the Antarctic when saline water reach the ocean. Miller, the diving specialist, had used equipment to capture the growing brinicle under the ice ear Little Razorback Island, close to Antarctica’s Ross Archipelago.

“When we were exploring around that island we came across an area where there had been three or four [brinicles] previously and there was one actually happening,” he said.

Miller added that he noted the temperature at which the formation starts and returned to the area when the same conditions were again observed. The duo has found some fully formed brinicles before finding one being in the process of forming.

“It was a bit of a race against time because no-one really knew how fast they formed,” said the cameraman. “The one we’d seen a week before was getting longer in front of our eyes… the whole thing only took five, six hours.”

“I do remember it being a struggle. All the kit is very heavy because it has to sit on the sea bed and not move for long periods of time,” he added.

These ice formations were known as ice stalactites until 1974, when Martin Seelye developed the now generally accepted theory of their formation.

The existence of brinicles was found out in the 1960s, it is the first time it has been shot.

This kind of ice formations was known as ice stalactites until 1974, after that Martin Seelye suggested the now generally accepted theory of their formation. [Via Huff Post, BBC and The Daily Mail]

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