Braids on the Athabasca

Braided melt pattern seen during breakup on the Athabasca River, AB (Canada), April 20, 2000

Freeze-up ice jams (hummocky ice covers) are a common feature on the Athabasca River near Fort McMurray, Alberta.  When breakup rolls around, these undulating  ice covers melt out unevenly – with the thinner sections melting first. This creates the braided melt pattern you see here.  You can also see what I call a “baby jam” in this picture – the typical first sign that the dynamic breakup is underway on the Athabasca.

(photo by UofA River Ice Group: Nikon E950, f/7.7,  FL 8 mm, 1/215 sec.)


About Faye Hicks

I am a professor emeritus, civil engineer, animal lover and writer.
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