How cold does ice get?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
How cold does ice get?

Randall Worner, Des Plaines

Dear Randall,
Water is both common and unusual. It is common in the sense that as a liquid it covers three-quarters of the Earth’s surface. As snow and ice, it covers vast expanses of polar regions. As a gas, it fills the atmosphere. Water is unusual in the sense that it exists in all three physical states — solid, liquid, gas — within the range of temperatures that we experience in our everyday lives. The temperature of ice varies just like the temperature of any other solid, within the physical limitations of its solid state. Just as the temperature of water varies between 32 and 212 degrees (its freezing and boiling points), the temperature of ice ranges from 32 degrees downward. An ice cube sitting in a freezer at -20 degrees will also chill down to -20.

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