Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jack frost's family

My outing on friday included all the hurdles of winter field work....frozen ground, sub zero temperatures conditions, cheeks turning bright red for the entire day, constant runny nose, and difficulty in identifying vegetation. One of the benefits of winter field work is seeing the beautiful forms of frost and ice. We found several large frozen puddles that were fit for display at any art museum. The layers of swirling white ice with colorful leaves were gorgeous. As usual, these pictures do no justice to the beauty.

Hoarfrost can be usually encoutered during a winter field visit. I'm not sure what exactly causes hoarfrost, but I believe it's when the humidity in the soil (gas form) goes straight to solid phase (ice) on very cold nights and totally skips the liquid phase. Ice takes up more area so the soil heaves upward and you see these ice crystals all over the ground. We walked over huge areas of hoarfrost and it felt like I was walking on top of dry cereal with the constant cracking of the ice crystals.

These crystals are actually pretty big. They are layered on top of each other and were like 6 inches in depth.