Ron says that the only way this ice could have been smoother is with a Zamboni! Head over to his Flickr for more!
This will probably be my last pic for a little while from the Straits. Just couldn’t pass up Shelby’s shot! She writes: A frozen Lake Michigan provided the dramatic icy foreground for the Mighty Mac! I ‘m always in awe over the ever-changing and fascinating ways ice forms, cracks, and shifts. And when it is crystal clear like this – it just adds an entirely new dimension!
Head over to her Facebook page for more great shots!
Rode up to Mackinaw yesterday and checked out the blue ice. Huge chunks and most phenomenal. The ice, however, is not actually turning blue. The color is a result of the way sunlight is bouncing off this particular ice.
Sometimes, weather conditions — such as a lack of high winds — allow water to freeze slowly and evenly, resulting in ice composed of large crystals (unlike snow, which is formed quickly and made up of small crystals).
When light hits these big ice crystals, it can travel deep into the structures (compare this to snow, wherein light hits a sharp edge and reflects off of it right away, resulting in blinding white). When the light travels deeper into slowly formed ice, some of the red wavelengths of sunlight — which is the longest wavelength of visible light — get absorbed into the ice structure.
The blue, which is the shortest wavelength of visible light, bounces back out, meet our eyes, and results in a deep aqua color.
See more in her Winter gallery on Flickr!
We’re getting to the portion of the winter where the ice begins to build out on the Great Lakes. As a person who grew up on Lake Michigan, I’ve enjoyed the ice safely for decades & will undoubtedly continue to do so and also to share photos of the incredible beauty of the frozen lakes. I want to make sure however that folks understand venturing on the ice in winter can be deadly, particularly if you don’t take precautions. Though EMT workers know this and train to help people in peril, if you fall into one of the Great Lakes, you will very probably die. You can read more of my thoughts on this post on Michigan in Pictures.
Bill took this last weekend in South Haven & writes:
It’s 16 degrees at the beach – this is what the cool kids are wearing on South Beach, South Haven. These three are with the South Haven Area Fire-Rescue-EMS and were out to practice a little cold-water rescue, ‘cuz, unfortunately, someone is gonna need it sooner or later.
This is one of the best shots I’ve seen showing how the structure of pancake ice is basically “round iceberg”. The Weather Channel explains the science behind pancake ice:
The circular slabs you see can range anywhere from one to 10 feet in diameter and up to four inches thick, typically forming in areas with at least some wave action and air temperatures just below freezing.
Pancake ice can begin as a thin ice layer (known as grease ice) or slush on the water surface, which accumulates into quasi-circular disks. The “lily pad,” or raised-edge appearance of pancake ice, can form when each disk bumps up against one another, or when slush splashes onto and then freezes on the slab’s edge.
Julie caught this picture last week in Charlevoix’s channel to Lake Michigan. See more in her Coronavirus Times 2021 gallery on Flickr.
The Traverse City Ticker reports that with less than 2% ice coverage so far, the Great Lakes are experiencing record low ice cover this winter:
According to Dr. Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist and physical oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the Great Lakes region is experiencing “warmer-than-usual weather” this season due to a combination of weather patterns including strong La Niña conditions. As a result, the maximum ice cover on the Great Lakes is only projected to reach 30 percent this year, Wang says – “way below” the average of 53 percent. Lake Michigan is expected to reach a maximum ice cover of just 23 percent, compared to an average 40 percent.
The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay has records for nearly two centuries on the freeze rate of West Grand Traverse Bay, including when it reaches the freeze point each year (if at all) and how many days it stays frozen over. While the Great Lakes often follow cyclical patterns, data shows that trends appear to be intensifying in recent years – a result many scientists attribute to climate change and include categories like water levels and ice cover. That trend can also be seen in Grand Traverse Bay freeze records, according to Watershed Center Executive Director Christine Crissman.
“If you look at the last 170 years overall, the bay definitely freezes over a majority of the time,” she says. “But if you start looking more closely at recent years, we are seeing a trend of less ice cover. From 1980 to present, the bay has only frozen over 38 percent of the time. Before 1980, it was 84 percent of the time. And even when it does freeze now, it doesn’t tend to freeze as long as it used to. It might be 20 to 40 days, where it used to be 70 days, 116 days.”
Charles took this photo back in 2015 off Gills Pier on the Leelanau Peninsula. Head over to his Flickr for more!
One of Michigan’s awesome winter features are the Eben Ice Caves in the Hiawatha National Forest. They explain that the Eben Ice Caves are located within the Rock River Canyon Wilderness (RRCW) which:
…includes approximately 4,700 acre (7.5 sq mile) and was designated in the Michigan Wilderness Act of 1987. During the mid- and late-winter months, many people visit RRCW to see the Eben Ice Caves.
…Although not “true” caves, they are made up of vertical walls of ice formed by water seeping through the sandstone bedrock cliff edge. As the temperature drops, these intermittent leaks create ice stalactites over the entrance to the bedrock undercuts. While ice caves are a phenomenon in the winter, the summer visitor would only see algae-covered rocks and dense foliage. The caves are within RRCW. Wilderness designation is the highest level of protection granted to federal lands.
You can read on for more & also be sure to check out the Eben Ice Caves Facebook page for tips & information on visiting.
More pics from the Eben Ice Caves on Michigan in Pictures!
There hasn’t been much in the way of ice buildup yet on Michigan’s Great Lakes so far in 2021, so I decided to reach back a couple of years to March of 2019 for this beauty from Au Gres on Lake Huron. 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.
Definitely check out more in Charles’ excellent Michigan Winter Ice gallery on Flickr.
John McCormick aka Michigan Nut is one of my favorite photographers. He’s been sharing some great videos he took this year at some of Michigan’s waterfalls on his Facebook page – check them out!
The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore explains that Miners Falls is where the Miners River drops about 50 feet over a sandstone outcrop, creating the park’s most powerful waterfall. You can see this photo & more at Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook and view & purchase John’s great waterfall (and other) pictures on his website.