Up here in the Traverse City area we don’t have cherry blossoms yet, but I’ve been seeing reports that cherries and other fruit crops are in bloom in southwest Michigan. Expect the TC area to bloom in a week or two and please share what you’re seeing in the comments!
The Causes of Color answers the question: What causes the blue color that sometimes appears in snow and ice?
As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light (leaving light at the blue end of the visible light spectrum). The absorption spectrum of ice is similar to that of water, except that hydrogen bonding causes all peaks to shift to lower energy – making the color greener. This effect is augmented by scattering within snow, which causes the light to travel an indirect path, providing more opportunity for absorption. From the surface, snow and ice present a uniformly white face. This is because almost all of the visible light striking the snow or ice surface is reflected back, without any preference for a single color within the visible spectrum.
The situation is different for light that is not reflected, but penetrates or is transmitted into the snow. As this light travels into the snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light. If the light is to travel over any distance it must survive many such scattering events. In other words, it must keep scattering and not be absorbed. We usually see the light coming back from the near surface layers (less than 1 cm) after it has been scattered or bounced off other snow grains only a few times, and it still appears white.
In simplest of terms, think of the ice or snow layer as a filter. If it is only a centimeter thick, all the light makes it through; if it is a meter thick, mostly blue light makes it through. This is similar to the way coffee often appears light when poured, but much darker when it is in a cup.
Click through for lots more about light & color!
Charles took this photo last March off Gills Pier on the Leelanau Peninsula when there was a whole lot more ice than there is this winter. View it background bigilicious and see more in his Leelanau Peninsula slideshow.
Anyone remember Hipstamatic? This is a shot of Pluto in Dave Kirby’s cool installation of the planets along the TART trail in Traverse City (created prior to the de-planetization of Pluto). I don’t usually feature my own photos here, but I had to find something to celebrate NASA’s historic 3,000,000,000 mile journey to Pluto:
After a decade-long journey through our solar system, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto Tuesday, about 7,750 miles above the surface — roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth.
“I’m delighted at this latest accomplishment by NASA, another first that demonstrates once again how the United States leads the world in space,” said John Holdren, assistant to the President for Science and Technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “New Horizons is the latest in a long line of scientific accomplishments at NASA, including multiple missions orbiting and exploring the surface of Mars in advance of human visits still to come; the remarkable Kepler mission to identify Earth-like planets around stars other than our own; and the DSCOVR satellite that soon will be beaming back images of the whole Earth in near real-time from a vantage point a million miles away. As New Horizons completes its flyby of Pluto and continues deeper into the Kuiper Belt, NASA’s multifaceted journey of discovery continues.”
More science on Michigan in Pictures.
The Freep has an article about a new animal that is being seen in Michigan titled Michigan’s mysterious, misunderstood coywolves:
…a unique, still relatively unknown and misunderstood hybrid of coyotes known as eastern coyotes or coywolves. They’re mostly coyote, but contain a small percentage of wolf from an unlikely mating of the two species about a century ago. It may sound like an urban legend, but coywolves exist throughout the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada, and have been confirmed in northeast Lower Michigan through blood-testing and DNA analysis.
Coywolves tend to be a little larger and heavier than their western coyote counterparts, but still well below the size of even the smallest North American wolves. They look like coyotes, though observers often note wolflike characteristics in their faces and fur.
…Coyote expert Stan Gehrt, a professor of wildlife ecology at Ohio State University, rejects the term “coywolf.” He doesn’t even like referring to them as hybrids. It leaves the impression that they are a near 50-50 mix of wolf and coyote, and that just isn’t the case, he said.
“They are eastern coyotes,” Gehrt said. “They aren’t really different from other coyotes, other than they have a little bit of genetic difference. I’ve trapped and tracked hundreds of Midwestern coyotes and a pretty good sample of eastern coyotes in Nova Scotia, and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.”
But those, including biologists, who encountered coywolves up close in the Lower Peninsula say they had some wolflike features.
Read on for more including a photo of an actual Michigan coywolf. If you think you’ve seen a coywolf, you can report it online through the DNR or by calling the DNR’s Gaylord office at 989-732-3541, ext. 5901.
If you’re interested in learning more, Meet the Coywolf from PBS’s Nature is a cool profile of this animal that you can watch online for free.
More Michigan wildlife on Michigan in Pictures.
“Love lingers when the heart remembers to touch the light leaking from the soul.”
Here’s a pretty incredible shot from Sunday in Frankfort Harbor.
In addition to being a pretty great photographer with a penchant for adventure, Sarah is an ambassador for Outdoor Bella, a community of strong women who are building strong relationships and lasting friendships and love to embrace the outdoors. She’s hosting a snowshoe hike meetup at 9:30am on Sunday, March 1st at the Sleeping Bear Point Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, followed by lunch at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor following the hike. Get all the details right here.
Oh ice, I can’t stay mad at you, even when you misbehave like this.
Associated Press photographer John Russell shared this photo from January 29, 1978. He writes:
My office 37 years ago: Marty Lagina stands on the frozen pier at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy on January 29, 1978, viewing the capsized training vessel Allegheny, which capsized from ice buildup during the Blizzard of ’78. This image was on assignment for TIME magazine, who had seen my b&w image on the UPI wire and wanted a color image.
Marty and I were lucky – the sky cleared and the wind stopped for about 20 minutes, then the storm began again. I wondered at the time who TIME knew to make that happen….
The photo was taken in Traverse City, ground zero for the blizzard Seeking Michigan shared info about one of Michigan’s most significant winter storms:
On January 26-27, 1978, snowstorms with fifty-to-seventy-mile per hour winds pummeled much of Michigan. Snowfall totals ranged from eighteen inches in Lansing to an incredible fifty-one inches in Traverse City. More than 100,000 cars were abandoned on roads and highways, and travel was impossible for days. Governor William G. Milliken declared a state of emergency on January 26 and activated the National Guard to assist with the cleanup. The governor also requested financial assistance from the federal government and estimated damage totals to be more than $25 million, not including lost productivity from workers who were unable to get to their jobs.
PS: Sorry for all the pics from Leelanau/Traverse City lately. Sometimes it just works out that way…