North American Icebergs: A Picture Tour
The Land of Paul Bunyan and Blue Ice
Paul Bunyan originated around these parts, and there's a really good reason why his ox was blue.
It gets really, really cold up here in Northern Minnesota, sometimes reaching down into the -45 °F (-43 °C) range during the coldest days of winter. (You know it's getting cold when the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales are basically the same!)
Lots of people cringe at the thought of these temperatures, but for the most part, it's much warmer than this, especially when there's snow to insulate everything.
There's something wonderful about winter: the air is clean, with the occasional whiff of burning wood smoke; the skies are clear and often a deep, dark blue; the stars twinkle brighter at night than in hotter climes; sometimes we get the aurora borealis; and there's nothing quite as nice as getting back inside your warm home after some nice outdoor activity like cross-country skiing through the pristine Northern Woods.
Along with all this winter wonder comes lots and lots of ice; blue ice! The edges and parts of the interior of Lake Superior freeze, and when warmer temperatures begin to take over in April / May (above freezing), the icebergs begin to wash up on shore. They end up in piles along all the beaches, and if you've never experienced it, there's nothing quite like it.
Droves of people come out of their little, toasty homes to explore this beautiful sight. Families come out en masse, walking up and down the icebergs along the shore. Teenagers dare each other (stupidly) to go further and further out toward the water. Kids throw ice shards and chunks of ice into the Lake, or bounce them off of the icebergs. It's a fun time, and it kind of marks the beginning of a new season. (Soon.)
Come explore the Northern Shores of Lake Superior with me from the comfort of your cushy chair and warm home!
When visible light hits snow crystals, a majority of this light is scattered and reflected back due to air bubbles and a non-uniform surface texture. We see this as white light (and white snow.)
When visible light hits thick, compacted ice, a majority of this light is absorbed due to the absence of light-scattering bubbles, and the presence of a uniform surface texture. Red light does not make it very far into the interior, but blue light penetrates deep into the ice. We see this as blue ice.
The term "to break the ice" dates from the 1580s; the metaphor represented the breaking up of river ice so boats could pass through (in modern terms it usually implies "cold reserve.")
As a naturally occurring crystalline inorganic solid with an ordered structure, ice is considered a mineral.
At a thickness of ten inches, ice will support 1,000 pounds per square foot.
Ice covers 10% of the Earth’s land mass and forms 7% of the oceans.
Until recently, the Hungarian Parliament building used ice harvested in the winter from Lake Balaton for air conditioning.
The oldest ice ever examined was found in the Antarctic and is believed to be at least 750,000 years old.
If Antarctica's ice sheets melted, the world's oceans would rise by 200 feet (60 meters.)
One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded broke free from the Ross ice shelf in Antarctica in 2000. It was 183 miles (295 km) long and 23 miles (37 km) wide, with a surface area of 4,250 square miles (11,000 sq km) above water, and 10 times bigger under the water. It's similar in size to Qatar, The Bahamas, or Connecticut.
© 2012 Kate P