Share this story...
Gian ice cube
Latest News

How long will it take this giant ice cube to melt in Seattle?

Olson Kundig placed this public art -- a giant ice cube -- in Seattle's Occidental park. (Gregory Nakata/Olson Kundig)

Update

The day is here. It’s ice, ice baby in downtown Seattle. A highly anticipated giant ice cube has been put in place. It’s pretty Cool.

It’s not a Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, as this Ice Cold Ice art display is in the Cold Cold Heart of Occidental Park.

Crews arrived early Friday morning and unloaded several blocks of ice. Like a frozen Lego sculpture, the blocks were laid one-by-one to form a 10-ton, 6x6x6 giant ice cube — this is not The Thin Ice. By 8 a.m. the cube was complete. The cube is certainly not Black Ice commonly found on pavement, rather, it catches and refracts rays of sunlight within it making it a perfect mashup of Fire and Ice.

The cube is meant as a public art display. The art isn’t Trapped Under Ice — it is the ice. It was put in place by architecture firm Olson Kundig. It didn’t take long for passersby to notice the art show — the popular display became Hot as Ice.

While many in Seattle could recently say, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the weather this weekend is expected to be warm. The display, however, is as Cold As Ice, and Olson Kundig is willing to sacrifice it for art.

The only thing to do now is to wait. There are many in town waging guesses on how long it will take for the massive block to melt.

Read below for details.

Original article — can you guess how long it will take to melt?

Here’s the challenge: A giant ice cube weighing 10-tons is placed in a Seattle park. How long will it take to melt?

Seattle will get a chance to find out this season.

August 2016 among hottest in recorded history

The architecture firm Olson Kundig is placing a public art installation in Occidental Park on Sept. 9. The giant ice cube will measure roughly 6 feet on all sides. It will then be left to the elements as it melts away.

University of Washington climate scientist Cliff Mass is taking the art display to the next level. He issued a challenge via his blog asking people to estimate when the giant ice cube will be completely gone.

Mass offers the following tips to consider:

• Radiative warming from the sun, which can vary substantially depending on cloud cover.
• Condensation on the surface, which depends on the humidity of the air, the air temperature, wind speed, and more (when water vapor condenses, latent heat is released).
• Conduction of heat to the surface, which depends on the temperature of the air and wind speed.
• Conduction of heat from the ground into the cube.
• Conduction of heat into the interior of the cube.

September vs. the giant ice cube

There are a few considerations this month when it comes to the outside conditions that the ice will face.

First, we are heading into a La Nina cycle, which throws all expectations up in the air. September is the earliest such effects could possibly be felt. La Ninas could be really wet, but they could also be dry. Though, it is more likely that such affects will be felt into winter and early next year.

This September is expected to have between average high and low temperatures of 71 degrees and 53 degrees Fahrenheit. And according to some sources, Seattle can expect a lot of clouds, or partially cloudy skies over the giant ice cube. There are few rainy days projected in the coming weeks.

But another thing to consider is that the Northwest has had a trend of breaking hot weather records over the past few years. Last August for example, warmed its way into the top five hottest Augusts in recorded history — four out of that top five are from the past four years. Last spring was another stretch of warm weather records. Seattle broke records held since the ’50s and ’80s.

Could Seattle’s warm weather continue through the month? And how will that affect the giant ice cube? Head over to Mass’ blog to weigh in. So far, most estimates don’t have the giant ice cube lasting more than a few days.

For reference, here is a video of a ball of ice — much smaller than the proposed giant ice cube — melting on a hot day.

Most Popular