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Term: Ice wedge Class:  
 vernacular   (0%)
Created 6 June 2017
Last modified 6 June 2017
Contributed by GCW Glossary

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Definition: Narrow ice mass that is 3 to 4 meters (10 to 13 feet) wide at the ground surface, and extends as much as 10 meters (33 feet) down; a decrease in temperature during the winter leads to ice wedge cracks in the ground around ice wedges; during the summer, these cracks accumulate melt-water and sediment, forming pseudomorphs.  NSIDCCryosphere 

A massive, generally wedge-shaped body with its apex pointing downward, composed of foliated or vertically banded, commonly white, ice  IPAPermafrost 

A massive, generally wedge-shaped body with its apex pointing downward, composed of foliated or vertically banded, commonly white Ice. The size of Ice Wedges varies from less than 10 cm to more than 3 m in width at the top, commonly tapering to a feather edge at a depth of 1 to more than 10 m. Ice Wedges are formed in thermal contraction cracks (Figura 33) in which hoar frost forms and into which water from melting Snow penetrates in the spring. Repeated annual contraction cracking of the Ice in the wedge, followed by freezing of water in the crack, gradually increases the width (and possibly the depth) of the wedge and causes vertical banding of the Ice mass. The surface expression of Ice Wedges is generally a network of Polygons. Ice Wedges growing as a result of repeated winter cracking are called Active Ice Wedges. Inactive Ice Wedges can be stable and remain for many centuries without changing. Ice Wedges are more common in arctic environments than mountains due to differences in soil properties, topography and availability of water.  TrombottoGeocryology 

Wedge-shaped, ice body composed of vertically oriented ground ice that extends into the top of a permafrost layer. These features are approximately 2 to 3 meters wide at their top and extend into the soil about 8 to 10 meters. Form in cracks that develop in the soil during winter because of thermal contraction. In the spring, these cracks fill with liquid water from melting snow which subsequently re-freezes. The freezing process causes the water to expand in volume increasing the size and depth of the crack. The now large crack fills with more liquid water and again it freezes causing the crack to enlarge.This process continues for many cycles until the ice wedge reaches its maximum size.  PhysicalGeography 

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