The powerful north winds of the storm earlier in the week pinned the ice to the shore, even while driving cracks into it. Now there is no wind, and much of the ice that we walked on in January seems poised to float out to sea. What will it take for it to leave? A south wind? Repeated tides?
The sea ice nearby is keeping the temperature down in our yard. Much of it is still covered with snow and ice, while up the road, further away from the water, the ground is bare. It has been a hard, icy winter. So I’ll be glad to see the sea ice go.
Spring is coming – we know it from watching the ice disappear. Martins River down the road is completely clear now, but outside our sheltered inlet there is a large, solid sheet of ice that goes up and down with the tide but hasn’t yet broken up, except around the edges. When it does, the tide will carry it away. It’s preventing the ice pans in our inlet from leaving for the open sea. So they’re melting, and leaving a large open space of water.
I stood and watched the tide start to go out, leaving traces in the snow to mark how high it had been, ice crystals transformed by the brief caress of the ocean.
It was about 8 degrees Celsius today, and sunny – a gorgeous day that drew us outside. We went for a walk along Martin’s River, which flows into Mahone Bay between the towns of Mahone Bay and Chester.
We saw quite a jumble of ice from upriver blocked by the two bridges: the former railway bridge that is now part of the trail system, and the road bridge. The tea-coloured water was rushing around and under the ice floes.
We walked past the bridges down one the east side of the river. The ice is thinning but still intact.
It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day with temperatures well above freezing. We have a lot of snow and ice for that sun to melt. Still, it feels like spring on a day like this. Some people find this time of year difficult in Nova Scotia, when daffodils are blooming in Victoria on the “other coast”. Others relish the cold temperatures and make the most of it. As for me, I’ve usually had my nose buried in my work at this time of year and this year is no exception. And I’m grateful for that.
I saw these on the ice the other day. What do you think it is? It looks like 4 dog paws, then another set of 4 paws, then something dragged for a distance, repeat. Leave comments below.
And these? Looks like ducks to me; I can imagine the waddle, and there are lots of ducks right here when the water is liquid.
Ice always builds up and stays in the inlets where it isn’t easily carried out to sea. At low tide it just sits on the bottom, on the mud. There’s always a dynamic edge out there forming, melting, breaking off depending on the wave action, with pieces getting carried out to sea.
The temperature has been bouncing around like a yo-yo – rather like the price of gas, from minus 10 degrees C to plus 10 and back again within a few days.
Unlike fresh water, which is at its most dense around 4 degrees C, salt water is most dense at its freezing point, which is typically around minus 2 C. The more salt is in the water, the lower its freezing point. In oceans that freeze, the water deeper down is saltier, so it stays down, and is less likely to freeze because the high salt concentration lowers its freezing point considerably. The lighter, relatively fresher water stays on top – so it’s more likely to freeze, and when it does freeze it has little salt in it, as I found out by tasting it.
I tasted the ice that had formed at the water’s edge on a small beach, as I said I would. As predicted, it was indeed fresh, not salty. A good survival tip, should you ever find yourself shipwrecked on a desert island in winter.