This Underwater Ice Tornado Kills Everything It Touches

Frozen Planet's cameramen Hugh Miller and Doug Anderson have captured the formation of a brinicle for the first time ever. I didn't know what a brinicle was until I saw this video. I just can't believe this can happen.

Brinciles are columns of ice that form under very calm ocean conditions, when there's a big differential between the water temperature (around -1.9C) and the air temperature above the sea ice (below -20C). The warmer sea flows up to the air, freezing into new ice. According to the BBC, "the salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath." This makes it fall down into the water, creating an ice plume that grows into the brinicle.

When it gets to the ground, it starts to expand, killing everything it touches. The whole process takes five to six hours, according to the team, which is surprisingly fast. Miller said that they didn't really know how much time it was going to take:

The one we'd seen a week before was getting longer in front of our eyes... the whole thing only took five, six hours.

You can find brinicles in the both poles, but these were filmed under the ice at Little Razorback Island, near Antarctica's Ross Archipelago. The team saw one growing in front of them while diving in that area and decided to get back to film the formation of a new one.

You will be able to see these and more amazing shots as part of Frozen Planet, a documentary series filmed for BBC One, narrated by Sir David Attenborough and recently aired on the Nine Network in Australia. [BBC via Necedades]

WATCH MORE: Science & Health News


    Actually it is narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
    Sir Richard Attenborough is the billionaire owner of Ingen from Jurassic Park.

      I believe they're actually brothers though. (David and Richard)

      Bravo. Now, would you like some Chilean sea bass?

    What is always amazing, to me, about doco's about the poles is the vast amount of life there. I always picture the poles as being desolate, lifeless continents of ice. Nothing could be further from the truth... except the ice continent bit. Even then, when spring/summer hits, it turns into a very green and colourful place with lots of flowers and in the north, lots of trees.

    In that video, I was amazed by the amount of starfish there were.. I love how the series has a little 10min section at the end of each episode showing the "behind the scenes" stuff.

      I would *love* to Scuba Dive at the Poles.

        I went for a swim in Antarctica earlier in the year in just my boardies. It's pretty nippy (-1.5 at the time).

    Time lapse starfish are rockin'!!!

    Heh, snap frozen starfish popsicles.. Mother nature never ceases to amaze me!

    Arrggh, I REALLY want to watch this, but this stupid Gizmodo player has never worked for me!! Anyone know somewhere else I can watch it??

      change browsers

    :O how cool is that!!!

    Damn nature, you scary!

      I am gonna +1 this comment because I actually lol'd.

    Yeah this player is sometimes hit and miss with me also +Chris, I just found this vid on youtube

    Wow! Just... wow.

    Mother nature and the BBC make a great team.


    What browser are those complaining using?

    Works fine in Chrome and IE.

    It looks like it might be a bit cold there

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