Walking along Hoy Trail on a chilly zero-degree snow-less January 2015 morning, Hoy-Scott Watershed Society (HSWS) member Robbin was delighted to spot Haareis or “Hair Ice” which is an ice or frost formation.
"I was picking up trash along the trail and at first thought it was dropped Kleenex tissue. I went to pick itup and was amazed at what I saw," said Robbin. "I was so excited to keep spotting it, I even called a man over who was walking his dog."
Hair ice is said to only grow on humid winter nights when the temperature is just below 0°C. When there is no snow it's easy to spot, but many pass it by thinking it is simply snow.
“Hair Ice is ice that grows outward from the surface of the wood, as super-cooled water emerges from the wood, freezes and adds to the hairs from the base,” says Dr. James R. Carter, Professor Emeritus, at Illinois State University, who wrote about Hair Ice on his website(HERE) and interestingly enough, many of his photos are from Vancouver Island, Canada.
“… the hairs of ice do not grow from linear fissures in a stem but rather appear to come out of pores in the wood. As such they are similar to hair on a head,” writes Dr. Carter.
In 2015, BBC wrote about the mysterious ice formation, saying that scientists have discovered that the formations are actually caused by a fungus called Exidiopsis effusa found on rotting wood.
We encourage the community to keep an eye out for hair ice when they are in the watershed.