Needle Ice

This week’s blog was written by Jonathan H., a Brookies alumni. Jonathan has always been interested and passionate about wildlife and conservation. He enjoys hiking, nature photography, boating, and fishing in his free time. Attending WLA has deepened Jonathan’s involvement and interest in conservation and he intends to continue doing what he can to make a positive impact on his community. WLA has also helped him come to realize that he is truly interested in entering the ecology and conservation field as a career. Jonathan hopes to help educate others about the importance of conservation and to help others develop a passion for the natural world around them.

If you’ve ever taken a walk through the woods on a cold winter day, you’ve likely encountered an interesting phenomenon, perhaps without noticing it. You will often hear a crunching noise under your feet and notice that the dirt you’re walking on has expanded. If you take the time to look closer, you will find that what you’re stepping on are spikes of ice protruding from the soil. This strange phenomenon is referred to as needle ice.

More needle ice
More needle ice
An individual column of ice

In order for this process to occur, the temperature of the soil must be warmer than 32 degrees Fahrenheit while the air must be colder than this. Usually overnight, the warmer liquid water will rise to the surface due to capillary action, and freeze when it comes in contact with the cold air. This causes a column of ice to form out of the ground. Next time you go for a walk on a cold day and hear a crunch underfoot, stop for a moment and take the time to appreciate one of nature’s beautiful works of art.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.