Trending on Twitter: Lake Michigan’s Blue Ice
Posted on: March 2, 2018

I-75 Pileup

Ice at the Straits of Mackinac in a recent photo by Aaron Springer.

Our lake is Superior but Lake Michigan is right up there too, some contending its even on a level with Huron. Be that as it may, Superior is a common bond for residents of Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. So to, Lake Michigan is a common bond for Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

It’s not often that Infosuperior writes up Lake Michigan but this time an exception is being made. We’re in good company. The Lake is getting thousands of mentions on Twitter, also NBC News, Huffington Post, even People Magazine.

Why Is Lake Michigan Getting All the Attention?

It’s the ice. Blue ice that is. Up around the Mackinac Bridge, which straddles the gap between Lakes Michigan and Huron, ice has been piling up in massive quantities. The reason this ice is attracting so much attention is its colour – blue.

NBC News on Twitter
An NBC News Twitter post about Lake Michigan’s blue ice.

Why is Ice Blue?

Blue ice is certainly not unheard of on the Great Lakes but is more of an occasional occurrence.

Ice sometimes freezes evenly and slowly resulting in a composition of large crystals through which light can penetrate deeply with reduced obstruction from bubbles. As the light penetrates the ice, some of the red wavelengths, the longest wavelengths of visible light, get absorbed. In fact, the absorption of light at the red end of the spectrum is six times greater than at the blue end. The deeper the light penetrates through the ice, the more photons at the red end of the spectrum are lost. This loss of reflected red light, or wavelengths, produces blue to the human eye. Blue is the shortest wavelength of visible light, bouncing out of the ice and resulting in a deep aqua colour to the human eye.

Most Blue Ice is Polar

Most blue ice is found in the polar regions. While the Great Lakes are often cited as the largest source of fresh water in the world, the amount of fresh water in the polar ice caps dwarfs the amount of water in the Great Lakes [Siberia’s Lake Baikal is often conveniently forgotten as well, containing more fresh water than all 5 Great Lakes combined].

Twitter post on Lake Michigan Blue Ice
Lake Michigan’s blue ice has lit up Twitter, including attention from the Huffington Post (bottom).

 

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