General, Research, Technology

What causes “icy hair” to form in the forests?

Strolling through the morning deciduous forestafter a cold night, each of us has a small chance to see one of the most amazing phenomena. On the rotten branches of oak, maple and some other trees that have fallen to the ground, you can see ice formations that look like a white wig or cotton candy. Scientists could not explain the reason for their appearance for many centuries, and mysterious fuzzes of ice in different parts of the world were known under different names, among which were “icy hair” and “icy ribbons”. However, in 2015, German scientists were finally able to find the answer to many questions of interest. It turned out that ice forms in such an unusual shape due to the presence of moisture in the wood and mushrooms invisible to the naked eye.

“Ice Hair” can be found in the woods after a cold night

How and where can I find “icy hair”?

The publication reported the results of the study.ScienceAlert. Unusual ice formations on the surface of rotten wood can be found in almost any broad-leaved forest of our planet, even in Russia. As a rule, oaks, lindens, maples and ash trees grow in such forests, but it is almost impossible to see spruces, pines and other conifers in them. Usually, “ice hair” in Russia can be found in November, when the soil has not yet frozen, but the air temperature is kept at zero degrees.

Unusual ice formal on trees, this is the result of the work of the fungus Exidiopsis effusa

It is interesting: Scientists are faced with an unknown atmospheric phenomenon

And the fact that frozen water does not form largecrystals and take the form of thin hairs, the main role is played by the fungi Exidiopsis effusa. Scientists do not yet know how, but they do not allow crystals to stick together, because of which the length of the hairs sometimes reaches 20 centimeters, and their thickness is almost the same as that of human hair. At the moment, it is believed that clumping is prevented due to exposure to substances produced by the fungi called lignin and tannin. At least, chemist Diana Hofmann reported this.

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To confirm this conjecture, scientists stillThere is a lot of research to be done. They will have to find out why ice fluffs form only on the wood of broad-leaved trees and whether there are other forms of ice that are still unknown to mankind. The complexity of studying ice formations of an unusual shape lies in the fact that they melt quite quickly under the influence of the sun. However, it is unlikely that something prevents the researchers from starting the processes in the laboratory, all the more so at the moment they know much more about the principles of interaction of wood, water and fungi than before.