Sand Waves

Sand Waves, photo by Charles Bonham

Confession: I probably don’t give Silver Lake Dunes State Park enough love. What an incredible place.

In Scientific American Robert S. Anderson, associate professor of earth sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz explains why regular, wavelike shapes form when the wind blows over the sand on the beach for a long time:

Ripples in sand, found on both beaches and dunes, are one of nature’s most ubiquitous and spectacular examples of self-organization. They do not result from some predetermined pattern in the wind that is somehow impressed on the surface, but rather from the dynamics of individual grains in motion across the surface. They arise whenever wind blows strongly enough over a sand surface to entrain grains into the wind. The subsequent hopping and leaping of these grains is called saltation. Saltating grains travel elongated, asymmetric trajectories: Rising relatively steeply off the bed, their path is then stretched downwind as they are accelerated by drag forces. They impact the sand surface centimeters to tens of centimeters downwind, typically at a low angle, around 10 degrees. It is this beam of wind-accelerated grains impacting the sand surface at a low angle that is responsible for ripples.

“An artificially flattened sand surface will not remain flat for long. (Try it on the beach or on the upwind side of a dune and see for yourself.) Small irregular mottles in the sand surface, perhaps a couple centimeters in wavelength, rapidly arise and grow once the wind starts to blow hard enough to initiate saltation. They then slowly organize themselves into more regular waves whose low crests are aligned perpendicular to the wind direction and begin to march slowly downwind. Typical ripple spacing is about 10 centimeters, whereas the typical height of the crests above the troughs is a few millimeters. The pattern is never perfect, but instead the ripple crests occasionally split or terminate, generating a pattern that looks remarkably like one’s fingerprint.

Read on for a whole lot more including Michigan Sea Grant educator Walt Hoagman explaining how the speed of wind (and water) over sand influences the waves.

View Charles’s photo background bigilicious and definitely check out his incredible Silver Lake Dunes photos.

More science, more dunes and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Van’s Beach

August 29, 2015

Northern Way Of Life

Van’s Beach in Leland, photo by Northern Way of Life

Van’s is the most popular public beach in my hometown of Leland for reasons that are probably made obvious by this photo. When Traverse City Tourism shared the picture, I figured I should too!

The Leelanau Conservancy has this to say about Hall Beach, also known as Van’s Beach:

The beach is Leland’s first public beach on Lake Michigan since the harbor was constructed in 1970. It lies at the base of the south breakwall of the harbor and was originally owned by the Hall family. The beach area was made possible by the Hall Family and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

It lies at the base of the breakwall and connects Fishtown to the rest of the public beach to the south which was gifted by the Miller Taylor families. Linked together, these areas create an uninterrupted protected area from Fishtown to where the trail comes down to the water from the parking area at the road end of Cedar street – for both wildlife and public to enjoy. A favorite place for watching Lake Michigan sunsets, Hall Beach also protects historic Fishtown from future commercial development.

Click through for a map and to see more beaches and preserves on the Leelanau Peninsula.

I will add that Van’s beach got its name from Van’s Garage, owned by the Van Raalte family. Also, when the wind is from the north or northwest this is one of the area’s best surf spots. The point you can see in the distance is Whaleback, also preserved by the Leelanau Conservancy.

View the photo bigger on Facebook, see several more in the Traverse City Tourism feature and definitely follow Northern Way of Life on Facebook for lots more from the Leelanau Peninsula & Northern Michigan.

More Michigan beaches on Michigan in Pictures.

Frog Friday

August 28, 2015

Frog Friday

A frog in the backyard pond, photo by jiafanxu

Anyone feeling like this at the end of the week? Fortunately, one of our last summer weekends awaits!

View Jiafanxu’s photo bigger and see more in their slideshow.

More frogs on Michigan in Pictures!

James Scott Memorial Fountain 1932

James Scott Memorial Fountain, c 1932, photo by Tom Clark

Here’s a fun pair of pics. Tom went back to where this family photo was taken in the early 30s and got a picture of the scene. You can see the one above background big, the one below right here and see more including another shot from the Belle Isle Conservatory in his Wonderful Michigan slideshow.

James Scott Memorial Fountain Bell Isle

More Belle Isle including the story of the James Scott Memorial Fountain on Michigan in Pictures.

Gorge Falls Black River Byway

Gorge Falls, photo by Eric Hackney

GoWaterfalling’s page on Gorge Falls says:

A very scenic waterfall set in a very scenic gorge. An added plus is the close proximity of the equally impressive Potawatomi Falls. These are two of the most impressive falls on the Black River and are also the two easiest to access.

Gorge falls is named for the deep and narrow gorge above and below the falls. This was my personal favorite of Black River Scenic Byway waterfalls. It is also one of the easier waterfalls to visit, being only a short distance from the parking area. There are a fair number of stairs to the falls overlook. It is only a short walk upstream to see Potawatomi Falls.

Read on for more including directions to this and other nearby waterfalls along the Black River.

You can check out Eric’s photo bigger and see more in his 6-27-15 Black River Scenic Byway slideshow.

Tons more Michigan waterfalls (including some by Eric!) on Michigan in Pictures.

Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle, photo by Mark Swanson

It’s been a while since I posted a turtle pic, and while I have a couple more Michigan turtles left to profile, this photo caught my eye today. The Herping Michigan Blog page on the Eastern Box Turtle says (in part) that:

Of all Michigan turtles, the Eastern Box Turtle is by far the most charismatic. A Species of Special Concern in Michigan, this species has declined drastically from its former distribution in the state. Nest predation, habitat fragmentation, road mortality, and illegal collection are the catalysts for the decline of the Eastern Box Turtle. Today, populations persist in pockets where grassland and mature woodlands still exist without fragmentation. Michigan individuals are often brightly colored with yellow or orange and have much broader carapaces than individuals of the same species which exist farther south in the range. This summer, my internship has allowed me to get direct involvement with the study and management of this species through captive head starting programs and aiding in telemetry studies.

…Farther south in their range, Box Turtles are traditionally known as a woodland species. But in Michigan, they prefer a mosaic of community types. Michigan Turtles often are found along woodland edges in grasslands but they occasionally wander into wetlands such as fens. They are often found in some sort of cover and are rarely out in the open except after summer rainstorms.

Box Turtles have a wide diet which includes worms, insects, plants, berries, and fungi. In the late summer when wildberries fruit out and drop to the ground, Box Turtles can often be found concentrated under or around large berry patches. Sometimes the evidence of Box Turtles is hard to miss.

Click through for lots more from Herping Michigan including a bunch of photos of the Eastern Box Turtle in action!

View Mark’s photo bigger and see more in his Michigan – Color slideshow.

Lots more Michigan turtle goodness on one of Michigan in Pictures most popular posts: Know Your Michigan Turtles, where this post has now become the definitive Eastern Box Turtle entry.

Lake-Michigan-Waterspout Muskegon Beach

Waterspout at Muskegon State Park, photo by Joe Gee Photography

Summer of 2015 has definitely featured some wild weather. Photographer Joe Gee captured this dramatic photo last Monday at Muskegon State Park. mLive featured Joe’s waterspout photo along with an explanation of the phenomenon by meteorologist Mark Torregrossa:

This is the waterspout season on the Great Lakes, but tonight’s waterspout did not occur in the classic waterspout weather pattern.

Waterspouts form mostly due to a large temperature difference between the water surface and the air a few thousand feet above. So the classic waterspout weather pattern would have a large, cold upper level storm system moving over the Great Lakes. That storm system is still well to our west, and won’t pass through until Wednesday.

This waterspout still most likely formed due to a temperature difference between the water and the air. The cold air aloft wasn’t really detectable because it was so isolated.

The other weather feature probably contributing to the development of this waterspout was a lake breeze or even possibly an “outflow boundary” from another storm. The lake breeze blows a different wind direction into the storm and can cause additional rotation. An outflow boundary coming off another thunderstorm can do the same thing.

So this waterspout is a less threatening rotation as compared to a tornado. Usually these waterspouts dissipate before they come onshore.

This time of year is the typical time for waterspouts because of two weather features. First, the Great Lakes water temperatures are usually warmest right now. Secondly, we have to mention the word fall. Cooler, fall-like air starts to move in at this time of year. The temperature difference is largest now through September.

You can purchase a print right here and follow Joe and his work at joegeephotography.com and on Facebook.

More wild weather on Michigan in Pictures!

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