Australian Weather Calendar: December 2019

December photograph by Leanne Osmond, Leeo Photography

Music to her ears

Moving to Tasmania from South Australia three years ago, the magical tones of the rugged landscape during winter certainly struck a chord with Leanne Osmond. 'I have loved weather photography for many years, with a passion for capturing fog and mist back in SA, but after moving to Tasmania I have definitely added capturing snow, frost and ice to that list!' It was back in 2015 on the road up to the Central Highlands, near the Liffey Falls State Reserve, that Leanne first came across this outcrop of rock dripping with icicles. The following year after experiencing heavy rain and record flooding, followed by a cold snap that produced some snow, she hoped the conditions would produce a similarly spectacular scene. Her hunch proved right, and although it was bone-chillingly cold, Leanne says it was certainly worth the drive. She remembers water constantly dripping down the icicles. Occasionally they melted and snapped off, making beautiful 'tinkling' sounds as they fell. Leanne says despite wearing gloves her fingers were aching with the cold, but it's being able to capture such remarkable sights—and sounds—that make her weather photography all the more noteworthy.

The science

Icicles, like those in this photo, can form when the air temperature is below freezing (0 °C), there is snow or ice around, and the sun is shining. The sunshine warms and melts the surface of the snow or ice a little. This water then runs along until it drips off a branch, leaf or other overhanging object. As the water drips, it refreezes in the very cold air, forming the base of an icicle. The icicle grows as drop after drop of water runs down it and freezes onto it.