Hair of the Fog

I suppose one advantage of lockdown is that we’re all learning a lot more about our immediate surroundings as we take our daily state-sanctioned exercise. And there’s still something new to learn about the natural world even in the dark days of winter. Like an entirely new form of ice that turns out to be the bastard godchild of an unassuming-looking fungus.

hair ice forming on a stick

A local friend had posted pictures of ‘weird looking ice’ on Facebook this morning, and I’d done some research* which seemed to indicate that it was something called ‘hair ice’. It is by all accounts quite rare, so I wasn’t expecting to stumble across it ourselves on our walk after lunch. Naturally I hadn’t brought my camera – it’s an iron law that I will only see something interesting if I don’t – so I had to carefully carry a half-rotten frozen stick home with me so it could be photographed for posterity.

close up of strands of hair ice.

Worth it I think, though, because it is extraordinary looking stuff. Even knowing what it is, it just doesn’t look like it’s made of ice. The Met Office has a good explanation of how it is formed, as well as this wonderful timelapse video (below), but the short version is that water in the wood is extruded out of the pores as ice as it freezes and the presence of Exidiopsis effusa prevents it from forming larger crystals (she says with an airy wave of the hand while squinting at Wikipedia).

What exciting local phenomenon did you notice today?

hair ice under bark

* By which I mean a quick google, obviously.

3 Responses to Hair of the Fog

  1. stephaniMok says:

    How fantastic! I appreciate your dedication to the blog in hoisting hairy ice log 🙂

  2. Haven Salon says:

    Now I’m intrigue what an hair ice is now I’m searching Google too lol

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