Lake Superior ‘Ice Stacking’ Video Is Mesmerizingly Beautiful

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This short video captures the phenomenon called ice stacking, which takes place when moving sheets of ice on a body of water collide with land or another solid object. It’s beautiful.

Turn up the volume and enjoy the sights and sounds captured by the Radiant Spirit Gallery, which explained the video in these words:

“While shooting in Canal Park, I noticed the ice had pulled away from shore and felt the breeze at my back. I anticipated there would be some ice stacking as the massive sheets of ice met the rugged shorelines, so I headed to Brighton Beach. The big lake did not disappoint! The seemingly endless ice sheets broke into large plates and stacked on shore, sounding much like breaking glass. The ice thickness ranged from about 1/4″ to about 3” thick. The sights and sounds were incredible! As the water became exposed, the sea smoke was whisked across the surface by the breeze. The sparkles visible in some segments were from the sun gilding the frost flowers that had formed on top of the new ice overnight — icing on the cake! I am in awe of and mesmerized by ice stacking (and waves), and spent hours immersed in the sights and sounds of one of my favorite winter occurrences, despite the subzero temperatures and frigid breeze. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into an incredible experience along the shores of Gitche Gumee! (To see incredible footage of a similar ice stacking event that took place during a sunrise in 2011, check out our “Lake Superior: Ice in Motion” video on YouTube at this link:… )

Four hours of 12-15 mph steady winds from the SW led to the movement of the large sheets of ice on Lake Superior on February 13, 2016. The conditions during the two hours of filming ranged from -8°F to +3°F air temp (-20°F to -8°F windchill) with winds 5-10 mph from the SW. Due to the mild winter, Lake Superior has experienced less ice cover than usual, and consequently the ice has not formed as thick as typical winters. (Weather data courtesy of the National Weather Service in Duluth) [For our friends using the metric system: Celsius: – 22c to -29c; wind speed from: 19-24 km; ice thickness: .5cm – 7.5cm]

This video is being shown at normal speed. For those who have not witnessed an event like this in person, it may look as if the video is sped up. Some ice stacking events move more slowly, especially when the wind is weaker or intermittent. The large sheets of ice shown in this video had pretty good momentum from sustained winds, but at one point the ice came to a groaning halt and the silence seemed almost deafening; it was a little eerie. Then the breeze picked up and the ice was on the move again, stacking plates. I enjoyed a two hour immersion in this experience at Brighton Beach, creating photographs and video footage and simply observing. This two minute compilation is a small sampling of what was recorded.”