John writes that this photo was taken at a small pond with pink lotus and some other water plants at the Michigan State University farm in Novi, Michigan. That segues nicely to this Greening of the Great Lakes interview with Dr. Rufus Isaacs, bee researcher and professor in the Department of Entomology at MSU about what we can do to make our farms and gardens better for bees.
He (Dr. Isaacs) believes the use of pesticides, disease and reduced natural habitat from the development of land for residential and agricultural purposes have made it difficult for the over 400 different bee species native to Michigan to survive and pollinate.
Among other things, Isaacs and his colleagues hope to expand spaces for wild bees to thrive close to farmland. His strategy to improve pollination sustainability involves luring wild bees to farms so producers don’t have to rent commercial honey bees. By planting wildflowers and using bee-safe pesticides, farmers can become less dependent on high-cost and out-of-state honey bees to pollinate their crops.
“We’re supporting those bees with pollen, nectar and a place to nest, “ he says. “That’s boosting those wild bee numbers to help honey bees when it’s bloom time in the Spring.”
Similar procedures can also be done on a smaller scale to increase pollination and mitigate bee decline. Isaacs explains that home gardeners can look to resources like MSU’s Smart Gardening program to attract pollinators to their fruit and vegetable plantings.
“Lives are snowflakes – unique in detail, forming patterns we have seen before, but as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection.)”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods
One of my favorite websites is EarthSky, and they explain how snowflakes get their shape:
The shape of snowflakes is influenced by the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. Snowflakes form in the atmosphere when cold water droplets freeze onto dust particles. Depending on the temperature and humidity of the air where the snowflakes form, the resulting ice crystals will grow into a myriad of different shapes.
…Kenneth Libbrecht, Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, has made extensive observations of how water molecules get incorporated into snow crystals. In his research, he has observed that the most intricate snowflake patterns are formed when there is moisture in the air. Snowflakes produced in drier conditions tend to have simpler shapes.
Temperature also has a large effect on the formation of snowflakes according to Libbrecht’s research. Snowflakes formed in temperatures below – 22 degrees Celsius (- 7.6 degrees Fahrenheit) consist primarily of simple crystal plates and columns whereas snowflakes with extensive branching patterns are formed in warmer temperatures.
Bottom line: Temperature and humidity influence snowflake formation. The most intricate snowflake patterns are typically formed during warm and wet conditions.
Read on for more including some links & photos!
Shawn writes that she can totally relate to this snowflake’s imperfect life. View it background big on Facebook, check out more including a kickin’ video of the Northern Lights at the Mackinac Bridge on her Lake Superior Photo page, and view and purchase photos from LakeSuperiorPhoto.com.
PS: Congrats to Shawn for passing 200,000 subscribers on her Facebook page – wowzas!!
PPS: Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods is an incredible work of modern day fantasy.
WANTED: millions and billions and zillions of these pretty things!
Retweet if you want snow too!
But how likely is snow? Here’s an in-depth report by Jessica Eggert on the likliehood (or lack thereof) of snow by Christmas Day that draws from a number of sources and pegs Detroit’s chances at just 46%. For the why behind this, check out Jeff Masters’ report on the warmest meteorological autumn on record:
Meteorological autumn (September – November) was the warmest in 121 years of recordkeeping for the 48 contiguous U.S. states, according to NOAA’s national wrapup of November and fall conditions released Wednesday morning. The national average of 56.8°F was a full 3.3°F above the 20th-century average and 0.2°F above the previous record of 56.6°F (Sep-Nov 1963). Only one state (Florida) had its warmest autumn on record, but the nation as a whole still came out on top because of the rare coast-to-coast nature of the warmth. (FYI Michigan was 120 out of 121 years in 2015)
The dynamics associated with El Niño are likely to keep unusually mild weather predominating over the northern U.S. for most of the winter, according to seasonal outlooks from the National Weather Service.
More snow on Michigan in Pictures!
PS: Here’s a great article about snow by Jerry Dennis with illustrations by Glenn Wolff titled Nature Baroque Snowflakes & Crystals that I shared in my online magazine the Northern Michigan Journal a decade ago.