Brinicle, Underwater Icicle, Captured Forming By Time-Lapse Camera (VIDEO)
New video has been released that shows the formation of a brinicle on the ocean floor. Essentially an underwater icicle, the brinicle, or "finger of death," freezes everything in its path.
Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson filmed the stunning time-lapse clip below, which is apparently the first of its kind. Shot for the BBC's "Frozen Planet," the clip was recorded using a special time-lapse camera that caught the brinicle's entire formation process.
What's really going on here is the freezing of warmer waters as sub-zero brine slowly sinks to the ocean floor.
The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it.
Where the so-called "brinicle" met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish.
Gizmodo describes brinicles as "columns of ice that form under very calm ocean conditions, when there's a big differential between the water temperature (around -1.9C) and the air temperature about the sea ice (below -20C)."
Miller and Anderson captured the brinicle's formation near Little Razorback Island, close to Antarctica's Ross Archipelago. The duo found a number of fully formed brinicles close to the site before finding one in the process of forming.
These ice formations were known as ice stalactites until 1974, when Martin Seelye developed the now generally accepted theory of their formation.
Be sure to also check out this awesome frozen lighthouse from last year, another example of how icy winds can create incredible phenomena.
UPDATE 2/28/12: According to a Discovery Channel press release, "Frozen Planet" will be premiering March 18 as a seven-part series narrated by Alec Baldwin on Discovery Channel.