Session B7: Emergent Patterns in Geophysical Processes

11:15 AM–2:15 PM, Monday, March 5, 2007
Colorado Convention Center Room: Korbel 4A-4B

Sponsoring Unit: DCMP
Chair: Raymond Goldstein, University of Cambridge

Abstract ID: BAPS.2007.MAR.B7.3

Abstract: B7.00003 : How the Icicle Got Its Shape

12:27 PM–1:03 PM

Preview Abstract   MathJax On | Off     Abstract  


  Martin Short
    (University of Arizona)

The growth of icicles is considered as a free-boundary problem. A synthesis of atmospheric heat transfer, geometrical considerations, and thin-film fluid dynamics leads to a nonlinear ordinary differential equation for the shape of a uniformly advancing icicle, the solution to which defines a parameter-free shape which compares very favorably with that of natural icicles. Away from the tip, the solution has a power-law form identical to that recently found for the growth of stalactites by precipitation of calcium carbonate. This analysis thereby explains why stalactites and icicles are so similar in form despite the vastly different physics and chemistry of their formation.

To cite this abstract, use the following reference: