Brain Freeze: Brian Nevins’ Icy and Ice-Filled New England Waves

by Chris Dixon

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A slushy New England peeler. Photo by Brian Nevins from his photo essay Frozen Peelers.

New Hampshire-based photographer Brian Nevins is well-known in the surfing world for an incredible eye and his uncanny ability to stay alive while shooting surfers from a freezing cold ocean. For these shots from his native New England though, Nevins opted to stay on the beach and and capture ocean swells as they rolled through the nearshore ice along New England beach. Surfing in this water would be highly ill-advised, if not downright impossible – depending on the solidity of the slush.

 

According to NOAA, at least fifteen percent of the ocean is covered by sea ice during some part of the year about ten millions of the planet’s square miles. Because of its salt content, ocean water freezes at a colder temperature than fresh – about 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit. But – and I didn’t realize this – when salt water freezes, only the water freezes – not the salt. It precipitates back out into the unfrozen water. In fact, here’s a survival tip; there is so little salt in seawater ice that if you melted it, you could drink it safely. The more salt there is in water, the colder it needs to be to freeze. When water is completely saturated with all the salt it can hold (23.3% salt by weight), the freezing temp drops to -21.1 degrees celsius or -5.8 degrees fahrenheit. Talk about a brain freeze. 

Check out more of Brian Nevins’ incredible portfolio here.

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