When New York Freezes – An Exploration into the Ice Formation in the Movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’

Hannah Mahoney, Elizabeth O'Meara


This paper discusses whether the ‘big freeze’ caused by an extreme polar vortex in the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ would be possible. It was assumed that the water covering New York had similar behavioural characteristics to that of a shallow lake and that the width of ice formed was large enough to support a medium truck. Using re-arranged thermodynamic equations, it was concluded that temperatures dropping to -150˚F would not be enough to freeze the ice since it would take 45.66 hours. Since the ice froze overnight as the characters slept, this aspect of the movie is not plausible.


Film; Physics; Polar vortex; Thermodynamics; The Day After Tomorrow

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