Natural convection during solidification of liquids is known to impact the freezing characteristics and also lead to defect formation. In this study, we report the findings of real-time interferometric observation of bottom-cooled solidification of pure water in a cubical cavity. The results show first quantitative evidence of full-field thermal history during solidification, clearly depicting the anomalous expansion of water below 4 °C. Furthermore, based on the strength of natural convection, characterized by the Rayleigh number, we identify and report four distinct regimes of solidification, namely—conduction dominated, early convection, front instability, and sustained convection. A critical Rayleigh number that initiates instability in the solidifying front has been proposed, which is significantly different from conventional calculations of Rayleigh number relating to the initiation of flow. The study shows full-field quantitative evidence of a well-known phenomenon and provides a further understanding of flow driven nonhomogeneities in the solidifying interfaces.

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