Blooming marvellous: Stunning other-worldly photos taken in the centre of the Arctic Circle show a meadow of flowers made from ice
- The breathtaking photos were taken by University of Washington graduate student Jeff Bowman and his professor Jody Deming last year in the Arctic Ocean
- The pair focused on the strange phenomenon where frost grows from imperfections in the surface ice amid extreme sub-zero temperatures
- Similar to a coral reef, each flower was found in essence to be a temporary ecosystem
This stunning scene could almost be mistaken for blossom floating on a river or lake at the end of an English summer – the reality is far more breathtaking and otherworldly than that.
Hundreds of flowers drift silently across the surface of the sea, but these aren’t your average petals they in fact elaborate ice formations in the Arctic Circle.
The beautiful selection of snaps were shot last year by University of Washington graduate student Jeff Bowman and his professor Jody Deming as the pair worked on a project combining oceanography, microbiology, and planetary sciences in the central Arctic Ocean.
The pair focused their study on the awe-inspiring frost flowers, a strange phenomenon where frost grows from imperfections in the surface ice amid extreme sub-zero temperatures.
Beautiful: Hundreds of frost flowers in the central Arctic Ocean
Other-worldly: The photographs of ice were taken last year by University of Washington graduate student Jeff Bowman and his professor Jody Deming while they worked on a study combining oceanography, microbiology, and planetary sciences
Breathtaking: Frost flowers are a strange phenomenon where frost grows from imperfections in the surface ice amid extreme sub-zero temperatures nearing -22C or -7.6F, forming spiky structures that have been found to house microorganisms
Science: The pair were in the central Arctic Ocean examining frost flowers as part of the Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program
Freezing conditions: Jeff Bowman braves icy temperatures in the Arctic sea to carry out experiments on frost flowers and ice cores
The flowers typically form in temperatures nearing -22C or -7.6F and their spiky structures have been known to house micro-organisms.
Similar to a coral reef, each flower is in essence a temporary ecosystem, with the bacteria found much more dense than in the frozen water below it.
The pair’s research was part of the Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program.
The research offers clues as to the limits of life in extreme temperatures which will be useful when we search on other ice-covered planets and moons for possible extraterrestrial life.
The flowers were found to produce chemicals such as formaldehyde which could give clues about the origin of life on Earth.
Although frost flower blooms are frequently observed in both polar oceans, little is understood about the physical, chemical and biological nature of the structures.
To investigate their microbiology Bowman and Deming learned to grow frost flowers in a freezer lab at the University of Washington before moving their study into the field, collecting frost flowers during several challenging expeditions.
Bowman and Deming are building a special chamber to grow frost flowers under ultra-clean conditions.
Digging deep: The scientists had to clear inches of snow to reach the sheets of ice to take samples
Tough terrain: The team used specialist vehicles to safely negotiate across the ice and snow
- Frost Flowers (hakescafe.com)