Rare ice formation spotted at National Trust’s Buckland Abbey

Authored by Mary
Posted: Friday, January 19, 2018 - 20:36

Hair ice, a rare type of ice formation, was spotted at Buckland Abbey recently. This formation is where the presence of a particular fungus in rotting wood produces thin strands of ice which resemble hair or candy floss.

Area ranger, James Robbins, says: ’I am very excited to have come across hair ice on the estate and to photograph this rare weather phenomenon. The conditions required for its formation are extremely specific. To form, moist rotting wood from a broadleaf tree is required with the presence of moist air and a temperature slightly below 0 °C.’

When water present in the wood freezes it creates a barrier that traps liquid between the ice and the pores of the wood. This creates a suction forces which pushes water out of the pores to the edge of the ice surface where it freezes and extends outwards. As this repeats it pushes a thin 'hair' of ice out of the wood which is around 0.01 mm in diameter.

It is believed that an inhibitor present in the Exidiopsis Effuse fungus enables the strands of ice to stabilise allowing the hair ice to keep its shape, often for several hours

The National Trust looks after the 650 acre Buckland Abbey estate to conserve the rare history in the buildings and landscape, whilst also working to create a healthy and beautful enviroment for everyone to enjoy.