February 4, 2011

Ice hairs! Ice hairs in the dirt!

On Monday when Justin went to leave for work, he came back into the house and exclaimed "Ice hairs! Ice hairs in the dirt!" Not surprisingly, I had no idea what the hell he was talking about until I went out a few minutes later to investigate.


I was fascinated! I took my camera out to capture them.


What were they?! I had never seen anything like them.


They looked like they had grown up out of the dirt, and did look like hairs. The clumps were made up of individual strands and were somewhat delicate.



I looked them up, and they're actually called needle ice. I think they are awesome, not just because they look cool, but because of how they form. When the temperature of the soil is above freezing and the temperature of the air is below freezing, the water underground is brought to the surface via capillary action. Capillary action "is a ability of a liquid to flow against gravity where liquid spontaneously rises in a narrow space such as a thin tube, or in porous materials such as paper..."

How COOL is that?! As the water reaches the surface, it freezes and when more water is drawn up it builds the needle, pushing it up out of the dirt.

Since Monday, I've noticed clumps of these in our fields where there's no grass (mole hills) and all along our driveway. I'm a little obsessed. I hope to get some more cool photos soon.

Have you seen these before?


Leanne Brant said...

Yeah we have them all over here at the apartments when it rains and then gets really cold out after the top soil has dried up a little bit. I think they look cool too. They had a small blog about them on Komo 2 weeks ago I think. LOL. Hope you are having a great day!!!

Jene said...

Those are really cool! I love taking pictures of snow and ice and shiny things.

Bettysinlove said...

Oh my goodness....that is the coolest thing I've learned in awhile! They are actually quite beautiful. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Meangirlgarage said...

Those are cool!