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Name: Judith D.
Status: Educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: August 2002

How are icicles formed?

This has been asked before, and the answer IS NOT SIMPLE. For example if you examine icicles hanging from a roof they are geometrically similar -- in the sense of similar triangles -- the apex angle is about 15 degrees whether the icicle is 10 cm long or 100 cm long. The actual mechanism is a rather complicated heat transfer problem.

If you do a web search (use: on the term "icicles" or "icicle formation" you will see a lot of discussion about the mechanism. It is not an academic problem on ships etc. in the arctic and antarctic.

Vince Calder

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