Scientists Say: Rime ice | Science News for Students

Scientists Say: Rime ice

This is a coating of tiny ice crystals that gather when water freezes rapidly on a surface
Dec 17, 2018 — 6:30 am EST
rime ice

This tree has a coating of rime ice.

Richardfabi/Wikimedia Commons

Rime ice (noun, “R-EYE-M ice”)

This is a coating of tiny ice crystals you might see coating a tree or car in winter. Rime ice forms when water droplets in a cloud, fog or mist freeze very quickly onto a surface. This type of ice can be very pretty. But sometimes it can be dangerous. Rime ice can form on the wings of an airplane when it flies through very cold clouds. It can make the plane heavier and harder to fly. It can even damage propellers and engines.

In a sentence

Big snowstorms can produce snowflakes that are covered in rime frost, making them like tiny hailstones.

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Power Words

(more about Power Words)

cloud     A plume of molecules or particles, such as water droplets, that move under the action of an outside force, such as wind, radiation or water currents. (in atmospheric science) A mass of airborne water droplets and ice crystals that travel as a plume, usually high in Earth’s atmosphere. Its movement is driven by winds. 

crystal     (adj. crystalline) A solid consisting of a symmetrical, ordered, three-dimensional arrangement of atoms or molecules. It’s the organized structure taken by most minerals. Apatite, for example, forms six-sided crystals. The mineral crystals that make up rock are usually too small to be seen with the unaided eye.

engine     A machine designed to convert energy into useful mechanical motion. Sometimes an engine is called a motor. (in computer science) A computer program that performs a particular, narrow range of functions.

fog     A thick cloud of water droplets that touches the ground.

plane     (in mathematics) A flat 2-dimensional surface, meaning it has length and width but no depth. A plane also extends infinitely in all directions.

rime ice     A coating of tiny, opaque ice crystals formed when supercooled water freezes rapidly on contact with an object.