Ice storm experiment: 'Winter Wonderwoods' in New Hampshire

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Fake ice storm

US researchers from the American Society of Agronomy want to learn more about ice storms and their effects on plants and trees. The weather phenomenon is hard to predict and occurs without much warning - that's why the scientists created their own. They sprayed trees in an area the size of three basketball courts.

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Preparing for the future

The results of the experiment could be useful in the future. Meteorologists believe that ice storms will occur more frequently in years to come because of climate change.

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Ice ice, baby

In the cold New England winter, the hosed-down branches turned to crystal in no time. Tree trunks and branches were covered by layers of ice between six and 19 millimeters thick.

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Pretty - but dangerous

While Hubbard Brook looks magical, ice storms in the US can have devastating consequences. Falling rain freezes almost immediately and covers everything with a thick layer of ice. Trees and utility poles can't support the added weight, fall on cars and houses and cause great damage or even power outages.

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Ice storms not necessarily bad

While the study is still ongoing, first results from the experimental forest are already in. A light ice shower could be beneficial for the forest, because a thin layer of ice kills surplus sprouts so other branches have more room. Since trees store a certain amount of carbon, they can survive under ice for a little while. But strong, frequent ice storms would be a threat.

To look into the effects ice storms have on vegetation, US researchers sprayed trees in the Hubbard Brook research forest with water when it was freezing outside. The result looks like something out of a fairytale.