Surface instability of icicles

Phys. Rev. E 66, 041202 – Published 4 October 2002
Naohisa Ogawa and Yoshinori Furukawa


Quantitatively unexplained stationary waves or ridges often encircle icicles. Such waves form when roughly 0.1-mm-thick layers of water flow down an icicle. These waves typically have a wavelength of about 1 cm, which is independent of external temperature, icicle thickness, and the volumetric rate of water flow. In this paper, we show that these waves cannot be obtained by a naive Mullins-Sekerka instability but are caused by a quite different type of surface instability related to thermal diffusion and the hydrodynamic effect of a thin water flow.


  • Received 23 October 2001
  • Revised 22 April 2002
  • Published 4 October 2002

© 2002 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Naohisa Ogawa* and Yoshinori Furukawa

  • Institute of Low Temperature Sciences, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0819, Japan

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