Wednesday, July 2, 2008

If it looks like a glacier, feels like a glacier, melts like a glacier ...


Actually, it's aufeis, German for "ice on top."

And, no, it's not a glacier. The ice sits atop a mountain spring. Although the water gushes from the earth virtually year round, winter temperatures in the Arctic run so cold that it freezes the moment it hits the air. Kansas Citians might think of it as the Northland Fountain on steroids.

The aufeis builds to almost glacier like proportions, covering acres of rocky stream bed. Bust open a piece, and it splinters into crystal shards. (A cultured colleague compared the look to the insides of Superman's castle in the Christopher Reeves version of the movie.) The massive blocks of ice that steadily melt away during the summer -- but never disappear entirely -- sport stripes of calcium that has oozed from rocks in the mountain. That stuff has the color and consistency of drywall mud.
Because the ice is melting, on the Arctic tundra that means that hot sunny days can raise creek levels as quickly as a good rain.
Water dripping from aufeis tastes wonderfully clean and would, no doubt, be great for brewing beer. Now if I can only find some hops and barely growing along the Yukon.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a perfect vacation spot! You wouldn't have to drink bottled water like at all the resorts in Mexico. Sounds even cleaner than Colorado at Christmas!

-Rebekah

pink said...

So Scott, the burning question amongst all of us back here in KC traveling the great North vicariously with you, that perhaps only you can answer, is: With the onset of global warming, has the phenomenon known as "shrinkage" become extinct, and a thing of the past?

Anonymous said...

Hey, while you're up there can you catch a polar bear? Here's how: You cut a hole in the ice, then sprinkle peas around it. When the bear shows up to take a pea, you kick him in the ice hole.

Anonymous said...

I'm wiping my ass with your global warming

Anonymous said...

What if the tundra melted and all of the carbon dioxide conatined therein floated toward the heavens? Would that kill the mosquitoes?