Artificial is any ice not sampled from nature, there's a whole range of options, from making 'standard' artificial seawater and freezing it to obtain known quantities of non-gaseous solutes, to freezing real seawater from sampling drives in an artificial meso/microcosm. This was a colleagues experiment, so unknown origin but grown in a macrocosm.
It is not even microscopy :) It is a (vertical) slice of ice from the top of a core, placed on a light source between two polarised filters.
Columnar sea ice can have beautiful crystals up to 20 cm in length. I think the longer ones here are maybe 5cm-ish.
@esty Thanks for the extra info. Even the small crystals are quite beautiful in that polarized light set up. I didn't realize that there were sea ice macro/meso/micor-cosm experiments, but now that you mention it I think I can imagine the utility. Is it a way to confirm/identify the conditions that would give rise to the types of features observed from non-artificial cores?
@danwchan Yes. Sea ice is an incredibly complex medium since each (discretised continuous scale) temperature change has an associated change in water molecular v. ice molarity, and with that a change ionic strength for example. The more concentrated the brine pockets inside the ice become, the further they are removed from seawater: they can no longer be assumed as dilute solutions on top of which salts start crystallising!
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