Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ice Part II

Spring has started. The days are now longer up here then down south. The sun stays are up till past 8pm. but the temperatures are still cool, peaking at 10 plus in the sun during the day and dropping to a similar level below zero at night. Work has dropped to a pace where I can start to catch up on my writing which I do miss, I am in a phase of catching up with posts that should have been out a month or two back, but the ice theme is worth revisiting as it has changed considerably since the first ice post in the heart of the deep freeze.

The last few months have had me compiling snow and ice features and guesses as to the forces drive them. The snow up here is very dry and fluffy, when the sun is low and weak and the temperatures consistently below zero, wind controls the forms taken by the snow. The wind shaped snow brings to mind a desert of sand dunes and camels not caribou and snow. Spring has shifted the balance from wind eolian forces to thermal forces.

Now the snow and ice are retreating, in a sublime way. The dry air and low temperatures lead to much of the water simply vanishing in to thin air. This sublimation gives some snow an hairy texture on the south facing sides. I noticed that some snow dunes had the crests facing southward have withered away leaving a skeletal frame work.

In Ice, I introduced you to the pet glacier which had made some attempts at eating our core. That meal was removed with much more force then a roman would ever apply with a feather, and it has not eaten well since. Sadly the glacier is melting. In its death it has moved away form the runny pahoehoe of the deep freeze to anastomozing streamlets and a odd mix of mechanical and thermal erosion. The silt form the saws adds to the illusion of fluvial hydrology, and makes it a gooey mess.

Because of the cool temperatures ice only melts consistently in the sun and so it will pool in low points, which happen to be shady, leading to large patches of ice in the land scape. This is actual a pain as much refreezes just out side the step going into the camp building.

The ice road to here is closed and the traffic gone but the ice is still thick on the lakes and thicker where the road is as a result ice roads will have flooded margins or as I like to think of it we are waiting for the side walks to freeze.

And because I can't resist ice up close, taken just a few meters from the above photo. I find ice interesting, it could serve as an analog to some mineralogical systems yet accessible with out having to take a trip to the center of the Earth.

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