Have you noticed, the past few days, while walking outside, the ground seemed a little more, crunchy (even in the areas without snow)? Perhaps you've noticed it looks as if the soil has been stirred up. These crazy temperatures and the vast amount of precipitation we've been having have created the ideal conditions for a phenomenon called Needle Ice!
Needle ice is a natural phenomenon which occurs when the temperature of the soil is above freezing and the surface temperature of the air is below freezing. The subterranean liquid water is brought to the surface via capillary action, where it freezes and contributes to a growing needle-like ice column.
While growing, they may lift or push away small soil particles. On sloped surfaces, needle ice may be a factor contributing to soil creep.
Next time you're out and the ground feels extra crunchy, look down, lift a few leaves, needle ice is a really beautiful phenomenon that only occurs here this time of year!
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.