Why is Ice Blue or Green?

The Blue Ice

The Blue Ice, photo by Charles Bonham

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.

More winter wallpaper and more amazing ice on Michigan in Pictures.

Walking into an Autumn Rainbow

Walking into an Autumn Rainbow

Walking into an Autumn Rainbow, photo by Owen Weber

Perfect title!

I feel like I didn’t get a chance to say farewell to fall, so I’ll do it this week. The first is from my backyard, on the trail that leads to the Empire Bluffs in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

View the photo bigger, see more in Owen’s Michigan slideshow. and also check out his website at owenweberphotography.com to view & purchase prints.

More fall color on Michigan in Pictures.

The Colors of Omena

The Colors of Omena

The Colors of Omena, photo by Elijah Allen

Here’s a shot by a friend taken just north of me showing the incredible fall color that’s still out there along the Lake Michigan coast. It was taken from off Omena Point at the northern part of the Leelanau Peninsula, so how about a little Omena history courtesy the Omena Historical Society?

The Omena settlement had its beginnings when Aghosa Indians started arriving in 1850. In 1852, the Reverend Peter Dougherty and a band of Ottawas and Chippewas led by Chief Ahgosa moved from the present-day Old Mission Peninsula to a beautiful little bay on the Leelanau Peninsula’s eastern side. Chief Shabwasung and his Ottawa band were already encamped on the point to the north of the bay, on land Chief Ahgosa and his families from Old Mission had purchased. Ahgosa settled a little to the north, and his village became Ahgosatown. Both bands became part of the New Mission, soon to be called Omena.

Young George A. Craker came with Dougherty and taught farming to students in the mission school, and he and his descendants became active workers in Dougherty’s Grove Hill New Mission Church. Now called the Omena Presbyterian Church, it was dedicated in 1858 and has stood as the oldest Protestant Church in Leelanau County and one of the oldest historical landmarks in Northern Michigan. The Ahgosa family was also very active and some are now buried in the mission cemetery.

Click through to read more and for some historical photos of Omena.

View Elijah’s photo bigger on Facebook and scroll though when you get there for more!

More aerial photos, more history and more Leelanau on Michigan in Pictures.

Perseid Meteor Composite

Perseid Meteor Composite over Cathead Point

Perseid Meteors … over Cathead Point, photo by Ken Scott

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower peaks August 11-13 and is the closest thing to a sure thing in when you’re talking meteor showers. The Perseids kick out 10+ meteors per hour at peak, and the darker your setting, the more you will see. EarthSky has detailed tips & diagrams about this summer favorite in Everything you need to know: Perseid meteor shower:

Start watching in the second week of August, when the Delta Aquarid meteor shower is rambling along steadily, reliably producing meteors each night. Then keep watching in the second week of August, when the Perseids are rising to a peak. The Perseid shower is known to rise gradually to a peak, then fall off rapidly afterwards. In early August (and even through the peak nights), you’ll see them combine with meteors from the Delta Aquarid shower. Overall, the meteors will be increasing in number from early August onward, and better yet, the moonlight will diminish until the new moon on August 14, 2015.

Don’t rule out early evenings. As a general rule, the Perseid meteors tend to be few and far between at nightfall and early evening. Yet, if fortune smiles upon you, you could catch an earthgrazer – a looooong, slow, colorful meteor traveling horizontally across the evening sky. Earthgrazer meteors are rare but most exciting and memorable, if you happen to spot one. Perseid earthgrazers can only appear at early to mid-evening, when the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.

As evening deepens into late night, and the meteor shower radiant climbs higher in the sky, more and more Perseid meteors streak the nighttime. The meteors don’t really start to pick up steam until after midnight, and usually don’t bombard the sky most abundantly until the wee hours before dawn. You may see 50 or so meteors per hour in a dark sky.

An open sky is essential because these meteors fly across the sky in many different directions and in front of numerous constellations. If you trace the paths of the Perseid meteors backward, you’d find they come from a point in front of the constellation Perseus. But once again, you don’t need to know Perseus or any other constellation to watch this or any meteor shower.

Read on at EarthSky for lots more and I hope you get a chance to enjoy Michigan after dark this week – it’s worth it!!

View Ken’s August 2012 composite of 8 meteors taken over an hour at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Cathead Bay bigger, see more in his massive Skies Above slideshow and head over to Ken Scott Photography on Facebook for a Perseids photo from last night!

PS: You can see a timelapse clip from this night on YouTube too!

Promising Start

Promising Start

Promising Start, photo by Heather Higham

Heather writes:

Hard to believe that a raging storm tore through just hours after this idyllic morning in the dunes. But this is from the same day (Sunday) as the monster winds that uprooted and snapped countless large trees…

View her photo bigger, see more in her Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow and follow her at Snap Happy Gal Photography on Facebook.

PS: I’ve been posting lots of updates from the storm on my Leelanau.com Facebook.

Shoreline Trek

Lake Michigan Pyramid Point

Lake Michigan … points along the bay, photo by Ken Scott

My friend Ken Scott has been walking the shore of the Leelanau Peninsula for the past year and a half. He writes that the point to the left is Pyramid Point in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore but he doesn’t know what name (if any) the other point is. Anyone know?

View Ken’t photo bigger, follow him at Ken Scott Photography on Facebook and definitely check out his Shoreline Trek slideshow.

Lots more Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.

Saturday Morning Stroll: Black Bear in Michigan

Saturday Morning Stroll Michigan Black Bears

Saturday Morning Stroll, photo by Mark Miller

Recently there have been several reports of black bear sightings in Michigan, in traditional ranges like Leelanau County where these bear were photographed and even as far south as the state line in southwest Michigan and Washtenaw County, where  The Hastings Banner shared that while some are escapees from private facilities, others are ranging south:

“We’re interested in learning more about how they use the landscape in southern Michigan,” explained DNR wildlife research biologist Dwayne Etter. “The landscape in southern Michigan is very different from traditional bear habitat further north.”

…The Saginaw County bear is the southernmost collared bear in Michigan. Other collared bears south of traditional Michigan bear country include a male that was trapped and collared outside of Whitehall in orchard country, as well as a sow with cubs in Newaygo County, and a male in Oceana County. “We got a good break getting this bear collared this far south,” said Etter, who is studying how bears disperse in southern Michigan.

In recent years, bears have been documented in Washtenaw, Ionia and Ingham counties. “There was a bear sighted just north of Lansing several years ago,” Etter said. “We have photos of tracks from Sleepy Hollow State Park in April.

Read on for more including how they tranquilized and collared the Saginaw in an effort to learn more about bear movements. The DNR’s Living with Bears page shares some good tips for staying safe:

With the exception of baiting for hunting purposes in remote areas, placing food to attract bear near homes, cottages, parks, campgrounds and picnic areas may teach them to associate people with food. This may place them and people at risk of injury.

Black bear have enormous appetites and an excellent sense of smell, and are capable of remembering the locations of reliable food sources from year to year. They will travel great distances to find food. When natural foods such as tender vegetation, nuts, berries and insects are scarce, bear are likely to come into contact with people. Problems occur when bear attempt to feed or actually feed on human foods, garbage, pet foods or birdseeds.

Although most bear are secretive and shy by nature, they will tolerate contact with people when their natural food is scarce. Because they are large and powerful animals, they must be respected.

Black bear are generally fearful of humans and will leave if they are aware of your presence. In the rare circumstance that you encounter a bear that does not turn and leave, first try to scare it off by yelling while leaving a clear, unobstructed escape route for the bear. If the bear stands its ground, makes threatening sounds or bluff charges, you are too close. Take slow steps backward while continuing to talk to the bear in a stern tone. In the rare event of an attack, fight back with a backpack, stick or your bare hands. Black bears have retreated in similar situations.

Mark took this photo on the Leelanau Peninsula and wrote: When my neighbor called me early on a Saturday morning to tell me a bear was heading my way, I had to go looking for him. View his photo bigger and see more in his In My Backyard slideshow.

Want to know more about bear cubs with triple the bear cuteness? Check out Bear Triplets on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Foxy Friday

Fox Crossing

Fox Crossing, photo by Mark Miller

What an incredible catch by Mark!

View his photo bigger and see more of this little lady in his slideshow.

PS: More about red fox in Michigan from Michigan in Pictures.

Coast Guard shares Manitou Passage shipwrecks from above

Wreckage of the Rising Sun

Wreckage of the Rising Sun, photo by U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

Yesterday the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City shared a collection of photos from the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, writing”

We can call it “Shipwreck Sunday” – With Lake Michigan ice gone for the season the crystal clear, deep blue waters of northern Michigan are back (albeit still VERY VERY cold at an average of 38 degrees).

During a routine patrol this past Friday, an aircrew captured these photos of a handful of the many shipwrecks along the Lake Michigan shoreline. These photos were taken near Sleeping Bear Point northeast along the shoreline to Leland, Michigan up to Northport.

Information on the shipwrecks is scarce, please post if you recognize any of the photographed sites.

View the Coast Guard’s photo bigger and click through for photos of other wrecks including the James McBride. Definitely follow them on Facebook for more cool shots of Michigan’s coastline from above!

Regarding the Rising Sun, the Leelanau Enterprise shares Leelanau historian George Weeks account of the wreck that includes a photo of the grounded Sun:

In October 1917, the Rising Sun went to High Island to get potatoes, rutabagas and lumber to take to Benton Harbor. On 29 October, in one of the early-season snowstorms that sweep the Lakes, the Rising Sun went aground at Pyramid Point. Lifeboats were launched and all thirty-two people aboard eventually saved.

As was often the case with Great Lakes wrecks, shoreline residents, not the U.S. Coast Guard, were the first to provide assistance. In this case, Fred Baker, summoned in the night by survivors pounding at the door of his home atop the Port Oneida bluff, was the first to respond. He hastened to his barn, quickly unloaded 60 bushels of potatoes that were on his wagon, hitched his team, and went down to the beach. The survivors, including a woman found unconscious on the beach, were brought to Baker’s house. (By the 1990s, Baker’s daughter, Lucille, who was four years old at the time of the wreck, was still residing at Port Oneida, the wife of Jack Barratt, great grandson of Port Oneida settler Carsten Burfiend.)

The Coast Guard beach rescue rig arrived from Glen Haven, pulled by two teams of horses borrowed from D.H. Day. A man who was asleep when the others abandoned ship was rescued by the guardsmen.

Remains of the Rising Sun are visible from the shore on a clear day, and are popular for recreational divers. As with other wrecks, the remains are protected objects within the Manitou Passage Bottomland Preserve.

Read more about the Rising Sun, it’s caro and final voyage and the House of David that owned it from Chris Mills and see more shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures.

Standing Iceboater

Ice Boating in Leelanau County Michigan

Standing Iceboater, photo by Mark Smith

It’s 8 degrees right now in Traverse City, and while the weeklong run of wintry weather hasn’t been good for such popular pursuits as getting the garden ready, boxing up winter clothes and keeping your house from being declared a Cabin Fever Disaster Area, it has left the ice in many parts of the state just perfect for the sport of ice boating.

Northern Michigan AP News photographer John Russell is a Michigan in Pictures contributor and wrote Ice Boating: An Ancient Sport in a Modern World a few years ago. It begins:

Sailing on frozen surfaces is believed to have its roots in Northern Europe, where goods and people moved around the region on frozen rivers and canals, using simple sails and handmade boats.

The Dutch and others brought iceboating to the Hudson River valley and other places along the East Coast, where miles of frozen rivers made for great sailing during the winter months. Freight and people were commonly moved up and down the Hudson River in huge, slooped-rigged boats.

Ranging in length from 30 – 50 feet, the stern-steering boats are still raced today by the Northwest Ice Yacht Association, having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

The ancient sport of sailing on frozen lakes and rivers is alive and well in our state, which has a long and involved history in the sport. Innovations developed in Michigan have enhanced and improved iceboating.

During the winter of 1936-1937, in the hobby shop at the Detroit News, boat builder Archie Arroll, along with Norm Jarrait and Joe Lodge, designed an ice boat they called the Blue Streak 60. Designed to be small enough to build in a garage, and easy enough to be built by anyone, the 12-foot hull design became known as the DN 60, for Detroit News and the 60-square-foot sail.

It is now the largest one-design boat class in the world, with over 8,000 registered boats around the world.

Read on for more including our state’s role in international ice boat racing, some state clubs, safety tips and a couple of photos from John.

Mark took this shot earlier in the week on Lake Leelanau. View it background bigtacular and see more photos (and a couple videos) in his Ice Boats slideshow.

More Michigan iceboating on Michigan in Pictures!