Ice scallops: a laboratory investigation of the ice-water interface

Mitchell Bushuk, Mitchell Bushuk, David M. Holland, Timothy P. Stanton, Alon Stern, Callum Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ice scallops are a small-scale (5-20cm) quasi-periodic ripple pattern that occurs at the ice-water interface. Previous work has suggested that scallops form due to a self-reinforcing interaction between an evolving ice-surface geometry, an adjacent turbulent flow field, and the resulting differential melt rates that occur along the interface. In this study, we perform a series of laboratory experiments in a refrigerated flume to quantitatively investigate the mechanisms of scallop formation and evolution in high resolution. Using particle-image velocimetry, we probe an evolving ice-water boundary layer at sub-millimeter scales and 15Hz frequency. Our data reveals three distinct regimes of ice-water interface evolution: A transition from flat to scalloped ice; an equilibrium scallop geometry; and an adjusting scallop interface. We find that scalloped ice geometry produces a clear modification to the ice-water boundary layer, characterized by a time-mean recirculating eddy feature that forms in the scallop trough. Our primary finding is that scallops form due to a self reinforcing feedback between the ice-interface geometry and shear production of turbulent kinetic energy in the flow interior. The length of this shear production zone is therefore hypothesized to set the scallop wavelength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)942-976
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • morphological instability
  • solidification/melting
  • turbulent boundary layers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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