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 as you can clearly see in the first 3 photos. On sloped surfaces, needle ice may be a factor contributing to soil creep.
Although we're moving into warmer months, if we happen upon another cold spell, keep your eyes to the ground and you may get to see this phenomenon.
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.