Location: Rome, NY. As the snow and ice melt, it releases small amounts of heat and travels down the icicle, creating drops. Due to subfreezing temperatures, the drop eventually freezes due to the cold air. If the temperature is warm enough, icicles will melt and the drops will not contribute to the growth of the icicle.
We usually get snow in the winter in Central New York. Thank goodness! Driving in the snow is much less terrifying (it can even be fun!) than driving on ice (always anti-fun). But recently we had some freezing rain, which led to car accidents all over the place, me making a very cheesy title to this guest blog post--shout out to 1990!--as well as these beautiful glazed twigs that Jasmina Samardzic photographed....
Location: Utica, NY. Periods of rain caused "glaze ice" to form on the tree branches. Glaze ice forms when the branches are very cold (close to freezing temperatures) and cold rainfall occurs. The water makes contact with the branches and freezes, smoothly covering the entire branch. Credit: Jasmina Samardzic.
Location: Utica College, Utica, NY. The snow on the deciduous tree branches has undergone destructive metamorphism. The air spaces are reduced in size as the ice crystals become more spherical in shape and pack more tightly. The destructive metamorphism allows the snow to be dense and compact enough to remain on the branches. Credit: Jasmina Samardzic.
Look at this sunset image from Rosa Zhushma! What a sunset!!
Location: Herkimer NY. This picture shows rather large-scale sublimation (conversion of a solid straight to a gas) around the tree trunks. As the trees absorb solar radiation, molecular activity increases within the trunk tissues and the trees emit long wave (heat) radiation. The snowpack absorbs this long wave radiation, increasing sublimation around the tree trucks. Credit: Rosa Zhushma.
These are images of the frozen Delta Lake, NY during winter. To take these images, Farah stood on the lake! The frozen upper layer is a few inches thick--thick enough to support a truck. If you think about it, you may wonder: why isn’t the whole lake frozen from top to bottom? Why do only the top few inches of Delta Lake freeze? It is because the ice layer on top is an insulator and so it prevents the heat from moving from the liquid water below the frozen surface into the cold air above the lake. And why does the ice stay on top? Because when the water freezes, it becomes less dense than the liquid water below, so it floats on top. Credit: Farah Hamati.
These images are from last winter, when--unlike this year--we still had snow in February.
As you can see, we had a lot of snow! The hive on the right was completely buried after most of our snowstorms and I had to dig it out several times. But the colony survived and turned out to be one of my strongest colonies by the end of last summer. It gave me something like 60 lbs of honey.
In contrast to last year, this year we have absolutely no snow in the beeyard at this time. In fact, it is feeling a lot like spring the last few days! Today, it got pretty warm (around 45 degrees F) and my honeybees were flying. The honeybee colony breaks out of its cluster when temperatures rise above 40 or so, and that frees up the bees to take a bathroom break outside. I think I saw some newly emerged bees doing their orientation flights in front of the hive as well. Judging from the activity I saw in front of my hives, all 5 of them are still alive, which is great news.
I took advantage of the snow melt to dig up some carrots that were still in the garden and to harvest some forgotten brussels sprouts. The spring weather also has encouraged me to order our seeds for the gardens this year.
I wouldn't mind a bit more snow before spring though.
Hershey, PA. The sun sets in the fields of undisturbed snow. The phenomenon known as albedo is common during winter: the sun’s shortwave radiation reflects off of the snow’s surface and back towards space. Credit: Jasmina Samardzic.
It's winter here in the northeastern United States. To the left is a photo that I took last winter near my house. If you look closely, you can see a bright red barn in the distance. This year, we seem to have started a January thaw on the last day of the month (yesterday); today when I woke up, the snowpack had mostly melted. But I'm sure it'll be back sometime before spring weather finally arrives in April!
This semester, I'm teaching a seminar course that is focused on Winter Ecology. We're reading and discussing/critiquing Peter Marchand's excellent book Life in the Cold along with a couple dozen scientific papers. It has been about 20 years since I took a course in Winter Ecology as an undergraduate at Drew University, and I am very much enjoying revisiting the material.
So what is the point of this blog? Mostly, I will probably post pictures about my courses, gardening, beekeeping, art, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I will invite friends, colleagues, and students to do a guest blog post every so often as well. In fact, I think my first guest blog post will happen....right now!