Ice pancakes are a phenomenon where discs of ice anywhere from 20 - 200 cm wide are formed creating a unique spectacle.
Ice pancakes are relatively rare phenomenon that tend to occur in very cold oceans and lakes. They are most frequently seen in the Baltic Sea and around Antarctica but also form relatively frequently on the Great Lakes of the United States and Canada.
They require some rather specific conditions in order to form and can form in one of two distinct ways.
In oceans, seas and lakes the discs are created when waves cause forming pieces of ice to knock against each other rounding their edges as they freeze and grow. Small rims are created on the edges as the knocking causes splashing water to freeze and join the rim.
They are also believed to form when foam on a river begins to freeze which begin to join together and as they are sucked into an eddy (a swirling current of water) and form into a circular shape as a result. As other bit of frozen foam and ice hit the forming disc they freeze to it and increase its size.
Whilst ice pancakes look like solid discs, they are often quite slushy and easily break apart when lifted up.
However, when given the conditions to consolidate, ice pancakes can end up binding with each other to form sheet ice and in rougher conditions waves can move these sheets of ice causing them to bend and crack to create ice ridges.
The following pictures showing ice pancakes captured around the world:
A photo posted by Weather from the Met Office (@metoffice) on Dec 17, 2014 at 7:44am PST
A photo posted by UNCG Alumni Association (@uncgalumni) on Jan 6, 2016 at 6:09am PST
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A photo posted by Em Bowman (@bopeepbowman) on Jan 17, 2016 at 11:42am PST
A photo posted by Mike (@madnessthebeerman) on Jan 1, 2015 at 7:27am PST
A photo posted by Cheri (@cotten.baker) on Jan 13, 2016 at 8:01am PST