When it’s freezing outside, it can be icy too. People walking down the street find their feet sliding in directions that they didn’t intend. A few unlucky ones slip and fall. Even penguins sometimes slip and fall while walking around the ice on Antarctica. And they have lots of experience walking on ice.
But have you ever wondered why we slip?
I sheepishly suggested that we ask NCAR scientist Dr. Sheldon Drobot why ice is slippery during the filming of a new UConnect video about winter weather. It turned out to be a pretty interesting question to answer.
“The frozen part is not the slippery part,” explained Sheldon. What makes ice slippery, he said, is a small amount of water sitting on top of the ice, which acts like a lubricant. Watch the video below to hear more about why ice is slippery.
Cars and trucks driving on icy roads is dangerous. Sheldon’s research helps make winter driving safer. His team is adding sensors to snowplows that record weather conditions, including ice, along their routes. Hopefully this will help keep cars and trucks from sliding off roads.
- You can explore how cars slip on ice with a simple model. By using a model instead of real cars, no one gets hurt!
- Learn more about Sheldon’s research: New Technology Targets Slick Winter Roads
- Find more science activities about snow and ice in the new Winter Weather Teaching Box