If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Grey skies, grey light, trees in black and white. I’m hungry for colour and sunshine and maybe even just a break from frigging with the white balance on my camera. These softly lengthening days of February have been so dull this year that the extra daylight looks more like daylong twilight. It’s a good thing HappyJack™ has a happy tail to motivate me or I might not leave the house at all on days like this.
Right now temperatures change extremely between -5°C in the night and 15°c in the afternoon and the days, they’re getting longer. And all the hazel is blooming so I tried to claw out my own eyes because fuck allergies. So it’s time to for (hopefully) one last look at winter.
What a strange winter we’re having this year. Yesterday we had snow flurries in the morning, freezing rain in the afternoon and then snow flurries again overnight and this morning. It looks pretty, but under that blanket of snow there’s a thick layer of ice that makes walking treacherous. The ice is also still coating the trees and hydro wires which is a bit of a worry. It’s supposed to start warming up tomorrow again with a projected temp of +5 by Friday and after that who knows.
With Winter nearing its end, at least here, it’s time to look back at the snow that we had.
Oh, and did you know, there’s going to be Frozen 2
Elsa is essentially a superhero now and we're definitely ok with that. Watch the first trailer for Frozen 2 right here! pic.twitter.com/4tXrEkEDRg
— IGN (@IGN) February 13, 2019
It’s time to take another walk with Ice Swimmer as he tours us around Harakka.
These pictures were taken on the rocks of Harakka, in various places and various times, both on Saturday and on Sunday. The wild/feral violas could be found all over the rocks wherever there was a large and dry enough crack or other place in which there was some soil.
Our journey on the rocks of Harakka will continue in the next post of this series.
This week we continue looking at the oldest and biggest tress in the world, but instead of looking up we’re going underground to have a look at a root system. A clonal root system, to be exact. You’ve seen Old Tjikko, the oldest living clonal tree in the world, but old Mr. T is not the oldest living clonal system in the world. That honour belongs to Pando The Trembling Giant, a colony of Quaking Aspen trees in Fishlake National Park in Utah.
Pando is an ancient clonal root system and although the individual trees live for about 130 years the root organism itself is estimated to be 80,000 years old. Pando was alive when early humans were first migrating out of Africa and it would be about 65,000 years before human eyes even reached the Americas to see Pando.
Pando is more than a group of trees that have withstood the test of time. Pando is actually just one tree; all the aspens of Fishlake National Forest are part of the same organism… Genetic testing has helped confirm that each tree in the forest is the same organism reproduced over and over again with only slight genetic variations.
Instead of spreading seeds, the clonal grove extends its roots in a process called “suckering.” New “trees” shoot up alongside the old ones, looking like new seedlings — but they actually belong to Pando’s extensive root system, which is why the different trees present nearly identical appearances. They’re essentially clones of the existing foliage.
Scientists believe that every tree in the Pando colony shares the same root system. The result is one of the largest and oldest living organisms on earth and a remarkably resilient forest. Pando’s deep, connected roots have allowed it to survive millennia of fires, droughts, climate shifts, and diseases.
Pando is big, too. It covers 107 acres and weighs in at an estimated 6,615 tons which makes it the worlds heaviest living organism. By comparison, a blue Whale is a lightweight at only about 200 tons. Pando is currently threatened by over-grazing of deer and elk, but a conservation project has been implemented and fences seem to be successfully working.
So there you have it. I think we can safely say that Pando is definitely the oldest and the biggest tree in the world.
Check out the full article and a few more photos at All That’s Interesting.
Our polar exploration has finally found success. This morning the normally low-key Jack Brown returned to camp in a state of total excitement. His face and beard were full of frost and his cheeks were pale with cold, but he was highly animated and his words came out in a breathless flurry. “North, near, big” were all that we could make out at first, but as Jack began to warm-up in the relative comfort of our hut his tale took on more sense. North of camp and a mile or so past the temporary weather station that we’d cobbled together, Jack had sighted what appeared to be 2 large tusks almost completely free of ice and above the snow line. The news quickly generated much excitement and in a matter of minutes the ennui that has plagued this mission had lifted totally and a happy buzz of commotion took over. Maps suddenly found their way to our makeshift table and everyone began to ready themselves for the march out to Jack’s discovery. Scientific instruments of all sorts were located, checked and packed on our smallest sledge. There was a small area of deep sastrugi between our camp and the site and I thought that the small sledge would best traverse the accursed peaks and dips. The day was dull, but thankfully polar night is still ahead of us and Jack’s tracks made navigation to the site easy. Within an hour the team was ready to go and we set out into the day full of happy anticipation. It was a short march and within 3 hours we could see the tusks from the eastern cliffs. When the tusks were first sighted Ned Barkley let out a whoop of excitement and the entire team became re-energized. A few hours of difficult descent later and we were all standing gaping in awe at Jack’s find. The tusks are massive and confirm my hypothesis that woolly mammoths did indeed migrate this far north. The head of the beast is partially exposed and should not be difficult to excavate. I ordered that a temporary camp be erected and sent Jason Digger and Ned back to our permanent camp with orders to pack up as much equipment and food as possible and relocate it to this new site. The hut and a supply of food will be left behind for our return journey, but the ponies are to be used to drag the sledges as far as possible and are then to be slaughtered and butchered. The men will then don the harnesses and drag the sledges the rest of the way. The find is so exhilarating that the entire team seems barely aware of the deep exhaustion that will set in soon. I have already begun taking measurements and am quite excited to begin the process of documenting this find for the Royal Society.
(With a nod to Sir Ernest Shackleton, the greatest polar explorer of all time.)