This January 2005 morning dawned cold, the risen sun low to the south of a forested esker ridge, as I suited up for this long planned for photograph. A Sony DSC-F828, a UV filter and tripod were all I needed to capture this. That camera model has a integrated flex lens. I needed to stabilize the lens to achieve this image clarity, depth and sharpness.
The shimmering gloss was achieved by waiting until the sun was above the ridge, shining light shafts through the trees, lighting the water obliquely.
As late as January the stream carries enough heat to create a fog or mist as the air chills after sunset. This causes twigs to frost up to create those white stick figures on the far bank. Snowfall from the previous day clings to trees.
Fall Creek freezes from the bottom up. First the water smoothed boulders accumulate a glaucous ice coat. Slowly moving water freezes from the edges, in stages, the middle stage an ornate filagree. The stream narrows downstream where the surface ice first joins. As the year progresses through February the creek gradually recedes under the ice, replaced by an ice road.
What is an esker ridge? As the last glaciers melted 10,000+ years ago, the channels carrying meltwater and sediment, under the glaciers, deposited these winding ridged hills. One of the outcomes was the channel of Fall Creek was altered to flow through the field of eskers among which, in the 19th century, a dam and water mill were created. It made barrels and furniture. My former home, in this photograph, was converted from the workshop of that mill.
Gratitude for miracles witnessed is my emotion for this series, “Frozen Fall Creek.” Thirteen winters after Pam and I walked Fall Creek as a solid walking path, the stream flows without ice most years. My son, whose family now lives in the house, and his wife recalling walking the creek a few years ago, not in the past few years.
Weather records support our recollections and observations: here is an analysis of Ithaca January temperatures. The years 2009 through 2019 show a warming trend in daily temperatures for both minimum and maximum.
Excel I used to plot minimum and maximum temperatures (farenheit) for the 31 days of each January for eleven years 2009 – 2019. Click on the images of this post for a larger version.
Click any image for a larger view.
Pam and I moved to Ithaca 2011 and missed our Fall Creek winter walks, miss them even more now our weekend excursions are only memories. Here are January minimum/maximum average daily temperature projections from 2020 through 2044 based on the trend established from the 2009 through 2019 series. The trend is the solid color, projection the faded color.
Reading from the chart, if the current trend continues by January 2044 the average maximum daily temperature will be 47 degrees compared to 29 for 2009. In other words, the temperature never rose above freezing in the year 2009. By 2044 temperatures will be above freezing every day, on average, with daily minimums averaging 21 degrees.
From what I read, we can expect these warming trends to accerate within our lifetimes. My son named small mid-creek hummocks “islands” with numbers. Here is a view of his Second Island in late summer. What will Second Island be in 2044 late summer?
Reader of posts I and II of this series have commented about snow shadows. Here are the shadows produced from snow fallen on the vegetation of the last photograph: soft mounds to contrast with tree trunk shadows.
Click any photograph for a larger version.
I prefer the composition of the following photograph. What do you think?
My last post, “Frozen Fall Creek I”, ended with macros of Ice Crystals on a bed of frost over creek ice within sight of our former home, a restored water mill. I continued on the ice, following the creek to this spot were the stream bed turns 90 degrees, changing from a southerly to a western flow.
Here I encountered an open course where constant water motion resisted freezing. A few frigid days later, the course had an amazing transformation.
Click any photograph for a larger version.
The transparent ice of the now frozen space retained the impression of movement, the surface rippled by current. In the following photograph, motionless ice crystals reveal the truth.
In the intervening days, the constant motion resisted freezing while the water temperature dropped well past freezing to achieve a supercooled state. As the water temperature continued to drop, a fast transition from fluid to solid happened so quickly the movement of the water surface was preserved.
Here is the matching “after” photograph to the “before” that started this post.