Around the Block: Frozen River
In the coldest parts of the Overworld, where snowflakes fall from the sky, sheep huddle together for warmth, and your breath turns to vapour as you exhale, you won’t find much surface water. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t rivers – all that snow has to go somewhere eventually, right? The solution is our biome of the month – the frozen river.
Frozen rivers pop up in place of normal, soggy rivers in snowy biomes. They’re covered with a top layer of ice, but you’ll find liquid water a single block below – so it’s still possible to fish if you cut a hole, or melt the ice with a heat source of some kind.
Frozen rivers were added to Minecraft in the Adventure Update in November 2011 – the same update that added brewing, enchanting, and The End. Their generation algorithm was tweaked quite a lot, though, in the second part of the Caves & Cliffs update in November 2021 – exactly ten years later.
Despite their unwelcoming appearance, you’ll find both salmon and squid are plentiful in frozen rivers. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you’ll also often find drowned, skeletons, and many other nasties hanging around in the water at night. Unlike regular rivers, seagrass doesn’t grow in a frozen river and sugar cane will generate alongside the riverbank but will quickly uproot itself as it needs liquid water to survive.
On planet Earth, frozen rivers are a seasonal phenomenon, rather than a permanent one. It takes pretty cold weather for a river to freeze, because the movement of the water makes it harder to form a network of ice crystals. But once a river freezes it tends to stay frozen for an entire winter before thawing again in the Spring.
In the town of Nenana in Alaska, residents bet each year on the exact moment when the ice in their river will break up. This practice, called the Nenana Ice Classic, began in 1917 and has been going strong ever since then. The winner can receive as much as $300,000 in prize money.
My advice to you though, is not to bet on when a frozen river in Minecraft will break up. The game’s lack of seasons means you’ll be waiting for a very...... very...... very..... long time.
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- Duncan Geere
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