We think of ice as solid, stable, slow to change, especially during a record-breaking cold snap. But on the shoreline of Lake Ontario the ice is always dynamic, changing from day to day and from hour to hour.
Waves pushed by a stiff wind can shatter and dissipate a thick sheet of shore ice overnight – or the spray from breaking waves can add many layers to that ice.
The steam that rises from the relatively warm lake water billows up to the clouds – or freezes against any solid cold surface.
Through the cold weather, year-round resident water birds – Canada geese, mute swans, and several species of ducks – continue to feed in the shallows.
Not so common is a bird that sometimes travels from the north along with the Arctic air. This Snowy owl (likely a first-year female) was bathed in the warm light of sunset on the breakwater.
On the pebbles and the icicles right at the shoreline, water cycles through all its states continuously. Water vapor rises from the lake, condenses into mist, freezes into hoar-frost or solidifies into clear ice, before a wave or two washes across, either melting the ice it touches or freezing into thicker ice.
Even on the surface of the Bowmanville Marsh where no liquid water is to be seen, the ice changes hour by hour.
Though the temperature only rises to about –10°C, the weak winter sun dries the ice crystals off this tiny feather. And the feather, in turn, shapes the solid ice beneath it, catching and reflecting just enough warmth to carve out a tiny crater in the ice before the cold night returns.
What a difference a day makes.
Top photo: Morning Flight, Dec 28, 8:05 am (click here for larger view)