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Name:  Anita C.
Status:  student
Age:  19
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
In the blizzard of 1995 in new jersey, someone I know is telling me in Cape May, NJ the shore line of the ocean froze. I am under the impression that it would be impossible for the moving water and breaking waves to freeze. Is this assumption correct?


Replies:
Anita,

Although I know nothing of the incident to which you refer, even ocean salt water will freeze if gotten cold enough consider the arctic and the ice0breaker ships that ply those waters. However, your analysis is correct. Certainly freezing would be made more difficult by breaking waves both because of the mechanics and the fact that waves represent inflow of water from the deeper off-shore source which would not be nearly so cold as the surrounding air. Like so many news stories that do not always get the facts straight, perhaps the report dealt with a more-or-less stationary backwater area rather than open coastal waters.

Regards,
ProfHoff


Anita,

Under very cold conditions, even salt water can freeze. So, the temperature was probably way below freezing, allowing the water to freeze and accumulate as ice on the shoreline. Where I see this every winter is on the shores of Lake Michigan (which contains fresh water), where the ice buildup on the shore during very cold winters can extend out into the lake for many yards.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


No, the assumption is not correct. If the temperature is low enough, salt water will freeze. There are two regimes. In the first, water freezes as pure water ice, leaving a more concentrated brine. In the second, salt water freezes occluding the brine. Search, the topic: "icicles" for more details.

Vince Calder


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