March 8, 2014
March 5, 2014
At night, as cold settles in, lake ice creaks and groans. It’s been excessively cold, and I camped exposed on the snow-swept surface. Other than the lack of vegetation and the sounds at night, you’d never know you were on a lake. It feels like an empty plain. In some places, you see pressure ridges where ice has pushed into itself, sticking up like clear blue stegosaurus plates.
~ Author Craig Childs on Lake Superior
From the latest satellite photo, it looks like Lake Huron is 100% frozen with Superior & Erie 95% and Michigan somewhere in the 85% area. Ontario is looking like the slacker right now, and you can follow along and see daily satellite shots from NOAA.
The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center provided the quotation above and reported on the Great Freeze Over the Great Lakes saying (in part):
Scientists say it’s understandable that the Great Lakes have had so much ice this year considering the cold temperatures in the region that persisted through the winter. Cold air temperatures remove heat from the water until it reaches the freezing point, at which point ice begins to form on the surface, explained Nathan Kurtz, cryospheric scientist NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
“Persistently low temperatures across the Great Lakes region are responsible for the increased areal coverage of the ice,” Kurtz said. “Low temperatures are also the dominant mechanism for thickening the ice, while secondary factors like clouds, snow, and wind also play a role.”
The freeze this year has local implications, including possible changes to snowfall amounts in the Great Lakes area, explained Walt Meier, also a cryospheric scientist at NASA Goddard. When the lakes are primarily open water, cold air picks up moisture from the relatively warm and moist lake water, often resulting in lake effect snow on the lee side of the lakes, on the eastern and southern shores. When the lakes freeze, the lake effect generally shuts down. “Although this year, they’re still picking up a fair amount of snow,” Meier said.
Lake levels could also see an impact by summer, as winter ice cover generally reduces the amount of water available to evaporate during winter months. If that turns out to be the case, it would be “good news for local water supplies, as well as for shipping and recreational use,” Meier said.
A 2012 study in the Journal of Climate by scientists at NOAA’s Great Lakes lab, which included data from MODIS, found that winter season ice cover on Lake Superior has decreased 79 percent from 1973 to 2010. The study also showed that ice cover on the lakes is highly variable and difficult to predict.
Today’s photo was taken on frozen Lake Michigan off the Leelanau shore by my friend and neighbor Cammie, co-owner of Epicure Catering. You can follow her at caterleelanau on Instagram for lots of wintertime fun and summertime food!
More ice on Michigan in Pictures!
February 27, 2014
I tend to keep my advocacy to myself on Michigan in Pictures, but when a friend shared the Climate Hope tumblr with me last week, I felt compelled to share it with you.
Michigan for me is defined by our water. On the heels of the disastrous million gallon oil spill on the Kalamazoo River, I feel that Michiganders have a sacred duty to protect our water today and for future generations. Climate Hope is submitting pictures shared with them as public comment by the March 7, 2014 deadline.
You can see more photo messages on Climate Hope and (if you’re so inclined) share one with them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to comment directly on the Keystone pipeline, head over to www.regulations.gov.
More about the corrosive beast that is tar sands oil via the Natural Resources Defense Council.
February 17, 2014
IMPORTANT SAFETY UPDATE! The Leelanau County Sheriff’s Department has declared the ice caves on Lake Michigan unsafe!! The winds have moved the ice and there is now open water within feet of the caves, and the strong winds expected today and tomorrow will continue to push water and ice inland. There are also large cracks in the arches and they are expected to start collapsing soon.
Ken Scott took a trip out to the massive ice caves off the shore of the Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City. You can see a fantastic video of his explorations and should definitely take a minute to watch his cautionary video showing the cracks that can form in these massive structures. There are few things less forgiving than the Great Lakes in winter, and with temps forecast in the upper 30s for tomorrow, things could get very dangerous.
Although ice caves and similar formations form every winter on Michigan’s shoreline, these ones are particularly incredible due to the greater than normal mass of ice generating more force. They have made it all the way to national news and have drawn thousands of visitors. A couple more features are at Huffington Post, another nice YouTube video showing the structures and the crowds and this mLive article with directions.
February 15, 2014
You may have seen one or more of these incredible ice photos making the email round as Lake Michigan or Lake Huron ice. The Snopes.com article above says that they and many more were taken Antarctic base of Dumont D’Urville by Tony Travouillon in 2002. A shout-out to TC weatherman Joe Charlevoix who posted a story earlier in the week debunking the hoax!
While we don’t have that level of brilliant blue, our ice does get bluish. Via Shawn Malone at the Earth Science Picture of the Day, I found an informative article by Larry Gedney about blue ice & snow that says:
It is a common misconception that the blue color exhibited by glaciers, old sea ice, or even holes poked into a snow bank is due to the same phenomenon that makes the sky blue–light scattering. But nature has more than one recipe for producing the color blue. In frozen water and in the sky the processes are almost the reverse of each other.
A blue sky results when light bounces off molecules and small dust particles in the atmosphere. Because blue light scatters more than red does, the sky looks blue except in the direction of the sun (particularly when the sun is near the horizon and the blue light is scattered out of the sunlight, leaving the red color of sunrises and sunsets).
When light passes through ice, however, the red light is absorbed while the blue is transmitted. Were the operating process scattering as in the atmosphere, then the transmitted light would be red, not blue. However, because of the large size of snow grains and ice crystals, all wavelengths of visible light are scattered equally. Scattering therefore does not play an appreciable role in determining the color of the transmitted light.
It takes an appreciable thickness of pure ice to absorb enough red light so that only the blue is transmitted. You can see the effect in snow at fairly shallow depths because the light is bounced around repeatedly between ice grains, losing a little red at each bounce. You can even see a gradation of color within a hole poked in clean, deep snow. Near the opening, the transmitted light will be yellowish. As the depth increases, the corer will pass through yellowish-green, greenish-blue and finally vivid blue. If the hole is deep enough, the color and light disappear completely when all the light is absorbed.
The color of ice can be used to estimate its strength and even how long it has been frozen. Arctic Ocean ice is white during its first year because it is full of bubbles. Light will travel only a short distance before it is scattered by the bubbles and reflected back out. As a result, little absorption occurs, and the light leaves with the same color it had when it went in.
There’s more (lots more) on water, snow & ice from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Heather took this photo at Point Betsie last weekend. View it bigger and see more in her Winter slideshow.
February 13, 2014
Mark Torregrossa writes at mLive that the Great Lakes are nearly 90% ice-covered:
The total ice cover on the Great Lakes continued to increase in the past seven days. At the rate the ice is growing, ice cover would reach record levels sometime next week.
We also had a mostly clear day Tuesday February 11, 2014. The high resolution satellite was able to generate some fascinating images.
The total ice cover on the entire Great Lakes system is reported at 87.3 percent today, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory(GLERL). The ice cover is up from 77 percent covered seven days ago.
The highest recorded total ice cover on the Great Lakes is 94.7 percent back on February 19, 1979. It should be emphasized that the most modern data set only goes back to 1973.
So the entire Great Lakes system has gone from 77 percent ice covered last week to 87 percent ice covered today. At that rate of increase, the Great Lakes would set a new modern day record for ice cover sometime next week.
Click through to mLive for a Lake by Lake report on ice cover and some sweet satellite shots.
My friend Elijah has been having entirely too much fun in and above the snow this winter. Lately he’s been flying a drone above the Leelanau Peninsula to see what he can see. View his photo bigger and (if you can) see more in his Drone over Leelanau Facebook gallery.
More aerial photography on Michigan in Pictures!
February 1, 2014
22 North Photography has declared February as Lighthouse Month, sharing 28 Michigan lighthouses in 28 days. Day 1 is the Frankfort North Breakwater Light which marks the entrance to Betsie Lake and the Betsie River in Frankfort.
Many more lighthouses on Michigan in Pictures.
January 31, 2014
At Empire, the beach was already sprinkled with about 10-15 other folks and the scene was surreal. Kids were crawling in and out of caves carved into the thick, massive ice formations built up along the water’s edge. Clouds intermittently descended and receded, offering up dramatic skies that beckoned you out.
…Once I finally convinced myself the beach was “safe” to venture out onto after watching about 14 other people successfully make the trek, I was off cresting mini ice mountains at a snails pace until I could finally peer into the water.
It was there that I finally got a sense of just how still the water was. Pancake ice floated gently on the barely breathing lake. The revelation of something so calm in such a harsh environment was almost jarring. (In a really good way.)
Read on for more and lots of stunning photos in her Why Michigan? blog.
Lots more winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.
January 28, 2014
As you may have realized from his last photo, Ken enjoys winter quite a lot – a useful trait for a photographer! He says that he crawled in here to get out of the arctic blast yesterday when he was exploring the ice by the Grand Traverse Lighthouse at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. If you want to get a sense of what it’s like right now, he also shot a fantastic video!
PS: I thought this photo was a nice counterpoint to Shawn Malone’s last pic.
January 17, 2014
I hope you all had a great week and that you’ll have a chance to get out and enjoy Michigan this weekend.
Wikipedia says that Onekama is a village in Manistee County located on the shores of Portage Lake, and that the town’s name is derived from “Ona-ga-maa,” an Anishinaabe word that means “singing water.” Here’s a Google map.
More winter wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.