Mid-winter on the New England coast — cold enough to freeze waves

freezing wave
Click to enlargeCredit Jonathan Nimerfroh

How cold has it been on Nantucket? Chilly enough to freeze waves.

Last Friday, Jonathan Nimerfroh, a photographer, arrived on the beach and saw an unusual sight: slow-moving waves of slush…

Normally, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But salt in the ocean lowers the freezing temperature — basically by getting in the way of the water molecules — to about 28.4 degrees.

The movement of the waves seems to have broken up ice crystals before they could grow into a sheet covering that shallow stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. The result was an ocean with the consistency of a 7-Eleven Slurpee…

Mr. Nimerfroh returned to the beach on Saturday, which was even colder by a few degrees. But by then, the water had frozen into an ice sheet. “Nothing was moving,” he said. “There were no waves anymore.”

I’ve seen this a few times – growing up on the New England coast. Made me feel even colder. 🙂

One thought on “Mid-winter on the New England coast — cold enough to freeze waves

  1. Cassandra says:

    “Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex weakening” (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK) 9/22/17 https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-09/pifc-wce092217.php “When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe. It is the first to show that changes in winds high up in the stratosphere substantially contributed to the observed winter cooling trend in northern Eurasia. While it is still a subject of research how the Arctic under climate change impacts the rest of the world, this study lends further support that a changing Arctic impacts the weather across large swaths of the Northern Hemisphere population centers.”
    See also “The Winter the Polar Vortex Collapsed” https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2013/3/22/1195793/-The-Winter-the-Polar-Vortex-Collapsed

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