Hair Ice

February 22, 2010

Haar-Eis[1]

Photographer: Helga Schöps
Summary Author: Helga Schöps; Jim Foster

February 2010 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

The photo above showing a particularly beautiful example of hair ice was found in the Black Forest of southern Germany, near the town of Schwarzwald. Similar to needle ice, hair ice (in German it’s called “Haareis”) is a type of frost flower formed usually in dead or rotting wood and leaves during episodes of high humidity and low temperatures. According to Dr. Gerhart Wagner in Switzerland, hair ice is related to the presence of a fungus. For this type of “frost” to occur, water or fluid within the stems of certain plants is exuded to the surface by capillary action where upon it immediately freezes. In some instances, the fluid, which isn’t sap, oozes to the air/bark surface via a fracture in the woody material. . Under just the right circumstances, amazingly delicate needles of ice are created. Photo taken on February 16, 2007.