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Ground Frost reported from many states of South India

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    10th Jan, 2019

As several states across the country reel under cold wave conditions, ground frosting has been reported in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Context

As several states across the country reel under cold wave conditions, ground frosting has been reported in Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

About

  • In India frost is most prevalent during December and January when minimum temperatures across the Indo-Gangetic Plains as well as parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh drop to 4°C or less.

What is unusual this time?

  • Frost has caught attention due to increase in density of ground frosting in southern Indian states.
  • Recent reports highlighted a blanket of ground frost covering the hills of Kerala’s Munnar, Kannimala, Chenduvara, Chittuvara, Sevenvalley and Nallathanni over the weekend, with temperatures falling as low as -3 degrees Celsius. The report also flagged the losses caused to tea plantation owners as tea leaves wilt away due to heavy frosting.

What is Frost and how is it formed?

  • Frost is water vapour, or water in gas form, that becomes solid. Frost usually forms on objects like cars, windows, and plants that are outside in air that is saturated, or filled, with moisture. Areas that have a lot of fog often have heavy frosts.
  • Frost is normally formed on still, clear and cold nights. The cool air causes water vapour in the air to condense and form droplets on the ground. When the temperature of the ground or surface is below 0 °C the moisture freezes into ice crystals - known as the frost point.
  • Frost usually forms at night, when the air temperature is cooler. Once the sun rises and warms the air around the frosted object, frost melts quickly.

Where does it occur more often?

  • Frost is most common in low-lying areas, where warm air rises, and cool air sinks—cool air is denser than warm air.
  • That means there are usually more water molecules in cool air than in warm air. As cool air collects in valleys, frost forms.

 Disadvantages of frost

  • It can severely damage crops and destroy plants or fruits. Plants with thin skins, such as tomatoes, potatoes, soy, or zucchini. Farmers have had entire fields destroyed in just a few frosty nights.
  • Frosty roads are slippery and, exposed to the heat from cars, quickly become wet. Many drivers have trouble navigating frosty or wet roads.
  • Frosting hinders the respiration process in plants causing decay and loss. Plant cells can be damaged or even destroyed by frost.

                                                Types of Frost

    • Ground frost: A ground frost refers to the formation of ice on the ground, objects or trees, whose surface have a temperature below the freezing point of water. During situations when the ground cools quicker than the air, a ground frost can occur without an air frost.
    • Air frost: It occurs when the air temperature falls to or below the freezing point of water. An air frost is usually defined as the air temperature being below freezing point of water at a height of at least one metre above the ground.
    • Hoar frost: It is composed of tiny ice crystals and is formed by the same process as dew, but when the temperature of the surface is below freezing point. The 'feathery' variety of hoar frost forms when the surface temperature reaches freezing point before dew begins to form on it
    • Rime: It is a rough white ice deposit which forms on vertical surfaces exposed to the wind. It is formed by super cooled water droplets of fog freezing on contact with a surface it drifts past.
    • Glaze: It forms when super cooled rain or drizzle comes into contact with the ground, or non-supercooled liquid may produce glaze if the ground is well below 0 °C. Glaze is a clear ice deposit that can be mistaken for a wet surface and can be highly dangerous.
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