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Lake Superior Icebergs: A Picture Tour

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I'm a dental hygienist, pyrography artist, avid gardener, writer, vegetarian, world traveler, and many other things!

Blue icebergs of Northern Minnesota.

Blue icebergs of Northern Minnesota.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, MN.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, MN.

The Land of Paul Bunyan and Blue Ice

Paul Bunyan originated around these parts, and there's a really good reason why his ox was blue.

It gets really, really cold up here in Northern Minnesota, sometimes reaching down into the -45 °F (-43 °C) range during the coldest days of winter. (You know it's getting cold when the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales are basically the same!)

Lots of people cringe at the thought of these temperatures, but for the most part, it's much warmer than this, especially when there's snow to insulate everything.

There's something wonderful about winter: the air is clean, with the occasional whiff of burning wood smoke; the skies are clear and often a deep, dark blue; the stars twinkle brighter at night than in hotter climes; sometimes we get the aurora borealis; and there's nothing quite as nice as getting back inside your warm home after some nice outdoor activity like cross-country skiing through the pristine Northern Woods.

Blue Ox Market in Akeley, Minnesota.

Blue Ox Market in Akeley, Minnesota.

Along with all this winter wonder comes lots and lots of ice; blue ice! The edges and parts of the interior of Lake Superior freeze, and when warmer temperatures begin to take over in April / May (above freezing), the icebergs begin to wash up on shore. They end up in piles along all the beaches, and if you've never experienced it, there's nothing quite like it.

Droves of people come out of their little, toasty homes to explore this beautiful sight. Families come out en masse, walking up and down the icebergs along the shore. Teenagers dare each other (stupidly) to go further and further out toward the water. Kids throw ice shards and chunks of ice into the Lake, or bounce them off of the icebergs. It's a fun time, and it kind of marks the beginning of a new season. (Soon.)

Come explore the Northern Shores of Lake Superior with me from the comfort of your cushy chair and warm home!

Blue ice fields, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Blue ice fields, North Shore of Lake Superior.

When visible light hits snow crystals, a majority of this light is scattered and reflected back due to air bubbles and a non-uniform surface texture. We see this as white light (and white snow.)

Blue ice flats, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Blue ice flats, North Shore of Lake Superior.

When visible light hits thick, compacted ice, a majority of this light is absorbed due to the absence of light-scattering bubbles, and the presence of a uniform surface texture. Red light does not make it very far into the interior, but blue light penetrates deep into the ice. We see this as blue ice.

Blue icebergs, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Blue icebergs, North Shore of Lake Superior.

The term "to break the ice" dates from the 1580s; the metaphor represented the breaking up of river ice so boats could pass through (in modern terms it usually implies "cold reserve.")

Blue icebergs, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Blue icebergs, North Shore of Lake Superior.

As a naturally occurring crystalline inorganic solid with an ordered structure, ice is considered a mineral.

Natural blue ice sculpture, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Natural blue ice sculpture, North Shore of Lake Superior.

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At a thickness of ten inches, ice will support 1,000 pounds per square foot.

Blue icebergs, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Blue icebergs, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Ice covers 10% of the Earth’s land mass and forms 7% of the oceans.

Frolicking in the ice, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Frolicking in the ice, North Shore of Lake Superior.

Until recently, the Hungarian Parliament building used ice harvested in the winter from Lake Balaton for air conditioning.

Ice shards.

Ice shards.

The oldest ice ever examined was found in the Antarctic and is believed to be at least 750,000 years old.

Ice shard.

Ice shard.

If Antarctica's ice sheets melted, the world's oceans would rise by 200 feet (60 meters.)

Ice crystal made of numerous shards.

Ice crystal made of numerous shards.

One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded broke free from the Ross ice shelf in Antarctica in 2000. It was 183 miles (295 km) long and 23 miles (37 km) wide, with a surface area of 4,250 square miles (11,000 sq km) above water, and 10 times bigger under the water. It's similar in size to Qatar, The Bahamas, or Connecticut.

Enjoying the beautiful day.

Enjoying the beautiful day.

© 2012 Kate P

Comments

Susan W from The British Isles, Europe on June 01, 2013:

Wow, this is amazing and so breathtaking. It is so wonderful to see the pictures at such a high quality and the icebergs are sparkling! Well done.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on July 31, 2012:

I never thought of them as looking like a sort of confection, but that's a beautiful and delicious new way to look at them (and appreciate them) each year!

Thanks so much for all the beautiful comments.

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on May 23, 2012:

Nice detailing on the pictures!

Brilliant presentation :)

Mary Strain from The Shire on May 21, 2012:

These look so clean and sugary, almost like some sort of confection. Lovely -- but too cold for this Atlanta girl! Interesting hub!

Radhika Sreekanth from Mumbai,India on May 21, 2012:

Wow!! Fabulous photographs! These crystal clear icebergs look great and it's one of my dreams to visit such a place.

Up, beautiful and awesome!

Sharing with my friends here.

Kate P (author) from The North Woods, USA on March 02, 2012:

When it's this cold, there's a kind of muffled quiet to the world. The smell of wood smoke is in the air, and when the sun shines everything appears almost ethereal.

Thank you all for the fantastic comments.

Golden Field on February 26, 2012:

pretty

stessily on February 21, 2012:

Faceless39, Your photos really bring out the beauty of these sparkling, unique icebergs. In the northern climes, one of the best kept secrets is that "the stars twinkle brighter at night than in hotter climes." The clarity of the skies and the crispness of the air are incomparable.

I also appreciate the reminder of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. I grew up on those stories.

Thanks for sharing.

Credence2 from Florida (Space Coast) on February 11, 2012:

Faceless39, The photos are great. I believe for a little privacy and peace of mind and can live anywhere and call anyplace home. As long as I don't have to go out to work everyday, I probably could handle it. Interesting geographically how Minn. is relatively close to the Michigan's upper peninsula.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on February 04, 2012:

Great Hub. Absolutely fabulous photographs. Thanks!

kerryfine from Columbus, IN on February 04, 2012:

Your pictures made me homesick - thank you! I am from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is very similar in climate, and I miss Lake Superior more than anything.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 04, 2012:

I knew it got cold up there but I had no idea it looked like that; reminds me of my year in Alaska...incredible pictures and great hub!

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