Wednesday 7 January 2015

Winter wonderland: Hair Ice

Happy New Year to you all. We hope you had a wonderful break.

If you got out for a winter wander in the woods over the holidays, did you spot any frozen ice formations emerging from logs or sticks, looking something like this? Teresa who went walking in Langholm sent in these fantastic pictures.

This mysterious phenomenon  called Hair-Ice or Ice-Wool is caused by a combination of wet wood, cold temperatures and winter active fungi!
Although not fully understood it is thought that as the fungi living within the stick break down the nutrients they release carbon dioxide. The pressure of the gas pushes the water out of the stick. In addition the organic matter contained in this water acts as a catalyst, helping to rapidly freeze the water as it emerges and  creating these ephemeral ice sculptors! Fascinating stuff! For more in-depth information this is a great article

This picture shows the Hair-Ice remaining even when the ground frost has gone!

I certainly won't look at those little sticks in quite the same way again.

If you have any pictures we'd love to see them!

Community and Education officer


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