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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Mar 2019

Research article | 06 Mar 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

The Morphology of Ice and Liquid Brine in the Environmental SEM: A Study of the Freezing Methods

Ľubica Vetráková1, Vilém Neděla1, Jiří Runštuk1, and Dominik Heger2 Ľubica Vetráková et al.
  • 1Environmental Electron Microscopy Group, Institute of Scientific Instruments of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 2Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Abstract. The microstructure of polycrystalline ice with a threading solution of brine controls its numerous characteristics, including the ice mechanical properties, ice-atmosphere interactions, sea-ice albedo, and (photo)chemical behavior in/on the ice. Ice samples were previously prepared in laboratories to study various facets of ice-impurities interactions and (photo)reactions to model natural ice-impurities behavior. We examine the impact of the freezing conditions and solute (CsCl used as a proxy for naturally occurring salts) concentrations on the microscopic structure of ice samples via an environmental scanning electron microscope. The method allows us to observe in detail the ice surfaces, namely, the free ice, brine puddles, brine-containing grain boundary grooves, individual ice crystals, and imprints left by entrapped air bubbles at temperatures higher than −25 °C. The amount of brine on the external surface is found proportional to the solute concentration and is strongly dependent on the sample preparation method. Time-lapse images in the condition of slight sublimation reveal sub-surface association of air bubbles with brine. With rising temperature (up to −14 °C), the brine surface coverage increases to remain enhanced during the subsequent cooling and until the final crystallization below the eutectic temperature. The ice recrystallization dynamics identifies the role of surface spikes in retarding the ice boundaries propagation (Zeener pining). The findings thus quantify the amounts of brine exposed to incoming radiation, available for the gas exchange, and influencing other mechanical and optical properties of ice. The results have straightforward implications for artificially prepared and naturally occurring salty ices.

Ľubica Vetráková et al.
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Movie S1 Ľ. Vetráková, V. Neděla, J. Runštuk, and D. Heger

Ľubica Vetráková et al.
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