Who doesn’t like to see ice figures? Almost no one. Even better if it is nature itself that creates these characters in a bizarre way. This happens to the “ice hair” of the forests of Ireland. A phenomenon that surprises winter hikers in these places that are usually photographed by their side.
Fragile like flowers
In Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone, ice that looks like cotton candy has formed between branches. Hundreds of icy strands can be seen up close. Yes, as if it were delicate white hair. They melt when touched or with the heat of the sun. This strange phenomenon is known as capillary ice or frozen flowers.
These crystals form on rotten wood on damp winter nights. It happens when the temperature is just below 0 ° C.
Scientists have discovered that the phenomenon is caused by a fungus called Exidiopsis router. This allows the ice to form fine hairs with a diameter of approx. 0.01 mm.
The causative fungus
Researchers at the University of Bern published a study on this in 2015. He says that capillary ice holds its shape due to a “recrystallization inhibitor” produced by the fungus. This inhibitor prevents small crystals from becoming larger crystals. This video from the European Union of Geosciences shows in slow motion how capillary ice forms:
The “ice hair” of the Irish forests is not unique to this place. It grows mainly in latitudes between 45 and 55 degrees north. It can be seen in countries like Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, the United States, and many others. But in each of them the passer-by is always fascinated.