Atmospheric icing occurs when water droplets in the atmosphere freeze on objects they contact. This can be extremely dangerous to aircraft, as the built-up ice changes the aerodynamics of the flight surfaces, which can increase the risk of a subsequent stalling of the airfoil. For this reason, ice protection systems are often considered critical components of flight, and aircraft are often deiced prior to take-off in icy environments.
Not all water freezes at 0 °C or 32 °F. Liquid water below this temperature is called supercooled, and such supercooled droplets cause the icing problems on aircraft. Below −20 °C (−4 °F), icing is rare because clouds at these temperatures usually consist of ice particles rather than supercooled water droplets. Below −48 °C (−54.4 °F), supercooled water cannot exist, therefore icing is impossible.
Icing also occurs on towers, wind turbines, boats, oil rigs, trees and other objects exposed to low temperatures and water droplets. Ice loads are a major cause of catastrophic failures of overhead electric power lines. Their estimation is, therefore, crucial in the structural design of power line systems. and can be done by numerical icing models that include meteorological data.
A number of aircraft crashes have been caused by ice. In other incidents icing was a contributory factor.
- Moore, Emily; Valeria Molinero (24 November 2011). "structural transformation in supercooled water controls the crystallization rate of ice". Nature 479: 506–508. arXiv:1107.1622. Bibcode:2011Natur.479..506M. doi:10.1038/nature10586.
- Farzaneh, M. (2008) Atmospheric Icing of Power Networks. Springer Science & Business Media, 2008, 381 p. ISBN 978-1-4020-8530-7
- Makkonen, L. (2000) Models for the growth of rime, glaze, icicles and wet snow deposits on structures. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London A, 358 (1776): 2913-2939.
- FAA (U.S.) Advisory Circular 20-113: Pilot Precautions and Procedures to be taken in Preventing Aircraft Reciprocating Engine Induction System and Fuel System Icing Problems
- FAA (U.S.) Advisory Circular 20-117: Hazards Following Ground Deicing and Ground Operations in Conditions Conducive to Aircraft Icing
- FAA (U.S.) Advisory Circular 20-147: Turbojet, Turboprop, and Turbofan Engine Induction System Icing and Ice Ingestion
- Wind Energy in Cold Climates: Icing on wind turbines
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