Friday, January 11, 2013

Hair Ice

Coolest thing in the woods today! (pun intended)  For the longest time I thought this was a fungus of some sort that froze on cold nights and then was easy to see on dead twigs and branches.  Turns out it's ice!  I wasn't completely off base since scientists believe there is also a fungal element involved, but they call it "hair ice." It occurs when water in the pores of dead wood expands via capillary action, freezing on the surface and growing outward in fine, hair like layers.  It doesn't form in just any wood either, only in specific species like; hazelnut, maple and alder, all prevalent in our forests.  Apparently it is a phenomenon unique to the PNW and select areas of western Europe.  (always knew we lived in a special place :)   Have you seen it?  Get out for a walk, should be lots of hairy branches out there in the next couple of days.

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