Ice circles don’t occur very often which is why when they are spotted, people jump at the chance to take photos of them. Ice disks are found spinning in circles on top of rivers in North America and northern Europe and can be as small as a CD or can measure as much as 55 feet wide. You can find the ice disks floating on their own or many close by. Physicists from the University of Liége in Belgium, conducted tests to understand how this natural phenomenon happens. They found that when water gets warmer the ice on top doesn’t simply melt down or sink. The water under the ice disks actually spirals in rotation and as the ice rotates more and more, it shapes into a disk.The shutterbug drove to the location to see if she would be lucky enough to spot the ice disk.
The discs are formed when a large piece of ice breaks off in the river. It creates an effect called ‘rotational shear’, where the current slowly grinds away at the free-floating chunk until it is smoothed into a perfect circle.
“It was a very meditative thing to watch. It was just kind of like a record spinning on a player after a song was done. I think that’s why I ended up staying for a couple of hours,” she told the Seattle Times.
Her main interest is in “conservation documentary photography with a focus on the relationship between communities and their environment.”
“You can hear the sound of the river flowing continuously. Sounds from the ice periodically interjected with very small sharp cracks and groans,” she explains. “Overall, it was a quiet experience to stand along the river watching the ice circle rotate.”
As the weather gets warmer in Washington, the ice circle will simply melt.