Chilly Scenes of Winter

ice melt.JPG

The blog has been skewed with cold photos of late. (And not very good photos either.) The shot above was taken with Libby’s camera on extreme zoom, which explains the poor focus. I suppose you can guess what the image is before I tell you.

I was standing on the dam, looking down at the frozen lake, and I saw the melting pattern in the ice. I wish the shot was more crisp, but I think you can make out what was so interesting to me.

I did not venture out on the ice, but I’m guessing that this is an example of how it can melt sometimes. I hoped to find a good explanation for how this happened (there were other, less dramatic forms in the melting ice as well), but I didn’t come up with anything, so you’re left to my wild speculations.

Why this delta pattern? Normally, my lake melts from the edges toward the center, but this hole opened in the center. Yet is the melt creeping outward? Or inward?

When I’ve seen holes in the ice like this, I’ve always assumed that warm water from the deep was rising and slowing thinning the ice until it was breached. I’m not sure where the warm water was coming from, though I expect it is from some rotting vegetation that is slowly releasing methane that bubbles to the surface. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) But if so, why the delta pattern of cracks. Once the ice is opened, the warm water or gas would not need to travel in any horizontal direction.

So then I began to think that perhaps the warm water is flowing toward the center hole, and as it follows minute crack lines in the ice, it begins to melt a path.

All of this suggests to me that the ice was very thin at the time since it could melt this way (rather than exclusively from the perimeter). Recent temps at Roundrock have probably reversed this melt, and maybe it’s time to try driving the truck onto the ice.

(No, I’m not stupid enuf to do that!)

The title of this post is another literary reference. This time it is to Ann Beattie’s novel of the same name, which was made into an art house movie with middling success.

Missouri calendar:

  • American goldfinches begin molting into bright breeding plumage.

14 Responses to “Chilly Scenes of Winter”

  1. mc Harjan Says:

    These are also called “spider web cracks” (Google)
    Check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sorby/109697496/ for some explanation.
    Nice items!

  2. mc Harjan Says:

    … Or could it be a photo of one of the Ozark lakes, taken from space? I see some resemblance….

  3. bill Says:

    It looks like something crashed through the ice. A meteor perhaps? Maybe there is a big round rock on the lake bed beneath the hole?

  4. robin andrea Says:

    It’s cool looking. I have no idea how it got there. It does look a little like something crashed into it.

  5. FloridaCracker Says:

    My first thought was, “Pablo’s been to Europa”.
    It has that grainy, out of focus NASA effect.

    You sure read alot of obscure books.
    :)

  6. Wisteria Says:

    Love the photo.
    It gave me a good chill.

  7. Mark Says:

    The branching structure does look like the result of flowing water. Based on no particular knowledge I would guess that maybe there is some flow causing it. The water surface at a hole in the ice would be lower than the top of the ice. If melting caused water to flow, it would probably make a structure like the one you photographed.

  8. cyndy Says:

    It is interesting thing to wonder about!

    Did it ever freeze over completely?

  9. Scott Says:

    I had the same melting pattern in a photo in my blog.
    It is of a lake, there would be no flowing water that day.
    http://verde33.blogspot.com/2007/01/cattails.html

  10. Ontario Wanderer Says:

    I have found some similar patterns on a very shallow pond on our property. They are still puzzling me.

  11. Mark Says:

    My theory was that the meltwater from immediately around the thawed hole was flowing in towards the hole. But that’s just a guess. We get frozen lakes around here about once every 10 or 15 years. If then.

  12. Walter Jeffries Says:

    That is gorgeous. I love the image! Nice catch.

  13. bev Says:

    Neat photo. The fuzziness actually makes it look more mysterious. It does sort of remind me of when something falls through ice that isn’t too strong.

  14. Cathy Says:

    I think we’ve got a fractal thing going here too.

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