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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The smartasses come out of the woodwork

(Photo from Alaska: note the Fahrenheit scale)

Reader-submitted question: I'm curious about this "ice fog" you speak of. Aside from the fact that the term itself is a contradiction ("ice" and "fog" refer to two phases of the same compound), I am surprised that ice could ever sublimate in sufficient quantities, in an unprotected setting, to produce a thick layer of there absolutely no wind up there, as well?

It happens that I have quite a bit of experience with fog, as I am a former resident of the foggiest place in the world.

Fog is really just a low-lying cloud: water droplets that hang in the air. Ice fog, on the other hand, is frozen ice crystals that hang in the air.

You don't believe me, do you?

It's made up of very tiny ice crystals. We don't get snow once the temperature dips below -20 or so, but it's not like snow at all. It's like fog.

Ice fog only forms when it's around -40. I honestly don't know if there's a certain temperature that's too cold for ice fog: I haven't seen temperatures lower than -50 or so unless you add wind chill like those wusses in the south.

We do have wind, but ice fog seems to form only on days that aren't windy. It's also possible that I don't notice it on windy days because the wind blows it away. It hangs near the ground, making it hard to see further than a few feet.

I've never seen ice fog outside the Arctic. Thanks for your question.


Nicole said...

I'm getting cold just looking at that picture...bbbrrr....!

Panic said...

We got ice fog in Calgary from time to time. Usually around -30 or so. And yes, that's before the wind chill, smart ass. ;P

Megan said...

Nicole: How cold does it get in Kuwait?

Anonymous said...

Wow, and i thought it was cold here but I realise now it is almost tropical in comparison.

I find extreme cold quite scary actually.

Fascinating though.