Blue moun­tains of ice rise, fleet­ingly, in lakes

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Omar Ab­del-Baqui

This nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non gets epic at­ten­tion.

When a calm­ing blue hue ap­pears on ice — now oc­cur­ring in the Straits of Mack­inac in Michi­gan — res­i­dents look on in awe and pho­tog­ra­phers get to work.

“The blue ice is in­cred­i­ble. When it shows up, it’s like these moun­tains of ice just ap­pear on the shores out of nowhere,” said Tori Bur­ley, a pho­tog­ra­pher from Mack­i­naw City. “They’re huge. I haven’t seen a photo that truly does them jus­tice on just how gi­ant they are.”

Jeff Caverly, a pho­tog­ra­pher from Es­sexville about 160 miles to the south­east on Sag­i­naw Bay, said he and his brother were on the way two years ago to Tahqua­menon Falls in the Up­per Penin­sula and were at a loss for words when they saw the blue ice un­der the Mack­inac Bridge in the af­ter­noon light.

“We grabbed our cam­eras and took a hike out on the ice to ex­plore,” Caverly said. “The ice had piled up and there were great views ev­ery­where.”

Bur­ley ad­vises pho­tog­ra­phers to try to shoot at sunrise or just be­fore sun­set to get the per­fect shot.

“The lower light gives the ice the best blue glow and makes it pop a lot more in pho­tos,” she said.

When lake ice is clear with no bub­bles, in this case where lakes Michi­gan and Huron meet, it al­lows for short wave­length light to pen­e­trate and scat­ter in the wa­ter be­low and re­flect back through the ice, said Ge­orge Leshke­vich, a field sci­en­tist at the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Great Lakes En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory in Ann Ar­bor, Mich.

“In deep, mid­lake wa­ter, where chloro­phyll con­tent is low, the re­flec­tion of the wa­ter can make the ice look even bluer,” he said.

To see the blue ice, you need to be quick. As Fe­bru­ary turns into March and tem­per­a­tures rise, the ice in the Straits of Mack­inac is be­gin­ning to melt.

“The crazy part is how they can dis­ap­pear so quickly af­ter show­ing up. Just a day or two and you can com­pletely miss it,” Bur­ley said. “It’s amaz­ing, and it doesn’t hap­pen this big that of­ten, which makes it even more ex­cit­ing.”

More of the pho­tog­ra­pher’s work can be viewed on her web­site, tril­li­u­mand­pine.com. More of Caverly’s work can be viewed on his web­site, jef­f­caverly.com.

“The lower light gives the ice the best blue glow ... ”

Tori Bur­ley, pho­tog­ra­pher

Blue ice is piled Mon­day on Lake Huron at the Straits of Mack­inac, with the Mack­inac Bridge as a back­drop. TORI BUR­LEY

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