|Frost flowers at Vermilion Lake|
Instead, when there is a strong temperature differential between the newly formed ice and the air temperature, moisture sublimates right out of the ice and freezes into frost crystals. Once the flowers are in place, even if the air itself is very dry, they continue to grow as long as the air temperature remains below about -15 degrees C.
|Smooth ice at one of the ponds near Field, B.C.|
The answer is that it needs to be calm for them to form. Most places here in the Rockies were dead calm this week, but not Field. It sits below Kicking Horse Pass, where the cold, high pressure air squeezed through to create a strong local wind. Wind is the enemy of frost flowers. According to the researchers, "frost flowers are typically only seen at wind speeds below about 5 metres per second: at higher wind speeds, turbulence mixes the region of local supersaturation with the drier air above."
full story, but frost flowers or not, being outside on our frozen lakes has been great fun.