Ice flowers: Blossoms in a tranquil fairytale world
Updated 13:37, 13-Jan-2020

When winter comes, most leaves and flowers fall from trees, baring branches and trunks to the cold air. But trees along the Kurbin River have another flowering season each year in winter.

The ice flower is officially known as rime, which is described as ice that freezes on the outer surfaces of objects and comes from water droplets in fog.  Rime is a beautiful, and all too familiar in winter scenery. So how does it form along the Kurbin River? 

The climate in the north is colder than the south, hence nature can easily redecorate the scenery with snow and ice. The Kurbin River is located in Xunke County of Heihe, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. As one of the branches of the Heilong (Black Dragon) River, the Kurbin River is about 220 kilometers long. On the upstream of the river, a hydropower station has been built to generate electricity. 

Temperatures in Heilongjiang Province can easily drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius (-22 °F), but the hydropower station continuously releases water above 0 degree Celsius, which means the river not only never freezes but forms a thick fog along its path. As the fog meets the cold air, evaporation creates beautiful and stunning "ice flowers" on trees alongside the river.

December to March is "ice flower season," as many visitors come to the north to enjoy this gift from nature. Without insects and leaves, winter forests turn into a tranquil place. And since the rime absorbs noises, it is easy to hear the crack or falling sounds of ice and snow.

(Cover image a screenshot from the video)

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