Frozen Ice Circles on the Pond

January 15th, 2009

The cold has arrived, waking this morning to sub-zero temperatures.  Our friends to the north must really be in the grip of this Arctic blast of air- we don’t usually see it this cold in winter.  The kids are totally bundled up for school, and don’t get to play outside in this weather.  Because of the wind chill, quite a few school districts have cancelled classes today.   This makes 20-30 degrees F seem almost balmy by comparison!  I remember as a kid we used to play outside in the snow all day long no matter how cold it was.  If we got a little wet, we’d come in for a change of clothes and some hot chocolate- but then right back outside!  We even went snow camping and backpacking in winter when I was in high school.   I spent some time flying around the Alaskan peninsula in winter years ago too.  That was really cold- we’d wear special suits in case something happened, but to most folks up there this is just a way of life. 

The pond ice has been interesting this week- it almost looks like we’ve had alien visitors making circles in the ice.  I’ve wondered before about why these circles form- any guesses?  Only thing I can think of is that there are warmer upwelling currents of water somehow.    This first picture was from yesterday afternoon.

Frozen circles in the pond ice

This morning they are even more frozen looking, and wider in many areas.  While I was gazing at the pond I heard several sharp hollow sounding expansion noises from the ice- “k-k-eeowp!” is the closest I can think of for how it sounded, but I was amazed how loud they were. I imagine the folks way up north and along the Great Lakes hear such noises all the time.

Ice circles frozen in the pond

I can’t help but wonder how the plants, trees and bees will do in this cold?  It’s part of nature’s cycle to be sure, and if we’re lucky- maybe some of those ticks and chiggers won’t hatch next year!?  I tried to help the bees out last week by putting a foam insulated sheet just under the lid, but above the inner cover.  I cut a hole in it for ventilation- but I had noticed a little moisture under the top wood/metal cover, and moisture is not good for bees.  The bees are so snuggly warm inside their hive that condensation can form just under the top wood/metal cover due to much colder outside air.  Hopefully with a little extra insulation on top of their hive, there won’t be such a cold/warm contrast at the top, and it will prevent condensation from taking place.

Spent some time in the barn this morning and got a fire going just to see how it would affect the inside temperatures.  The outdoor air was around 0-5 degrees F, and after a couple hours the barn showed just above 32 degrees inside.   Still kind of chilly- the stove would probably have to run all day to make much difference, especially since it’s just a metal, uninsulated building.  So I’ll just use it during those times when the outdoor temperature is between about 25 degrees and 40 degrees- and then the stove should warm up the inside of the barn nicely. I hope you are staying warm!

On a personal note, I didn’t write yesterday but it was my Dad’s birthday- he passed away four years ago and I seem to think of these special days more now than I ever did before.  We had a lovely dinner with the young boy’s “Memaw” to celebrate the day, and it was a lot of fun. 

3 Responses to “Frozen Ice Circles on the Pond”

  1. I get those same effects in my lake when it freezes. I’m thinking the same thing about the upwelling, though maybe methane from decomposing plants?

    I’ve heard that same booming too. To me it sounded like thunder at first. I was in the acre below the dam when I first hear it, and I was surprised that there would be thunder on such a clear day.

  2. My guess is gases from decomposing plants and fish too. Perhaps the gas imbeds in the ice giving it a different hue.

    I can’t remember how my parents wintered their bees for sure but I’m pretty sure they put some sort of styrofoam square under the lid too though I don’t remember any ventilation holes in that. I do remember they would group the hives together usually in groups of four so that they could help heat each other and then wrapped the whole works with black tar paper to absorb any sun energy. Later on in late winter/early spring, we would feed the weaker hives with some sucrose that we bought from a nearby Pepsi bottling plant.

  3. Pablo/Ed- Good point about the methane gas! I’ll bet that’s a lot of it for sure… the pond does have a lot of detritus and decomposition going on. I didn’t even think of that… glad to know you hear those strange sounds too, they’re actually kind of neat.

    Ed- Thanks for the info about the bees- and since it gets colder up there that makes sense. Tar paper is a great idea. I plan to feed in March to help them out.

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