Scientists have recently introduced us to rotting fungus, the inventor of sparkling hair-ice. Hair ice is one of the most unusual and, yet, beautiful phenomena that people in Switzerland and Germany witness during the winter months as they take walks through the misty and cold woods.
You may have probably noticed small white bunches of thin threads that look like cotton candy many times before, but never took the time to actually find out what they were. Some scientists, however, have been more curious than regular people and have, for that matter, closely analyzed the phenomenon to determine what it is and what causes it.
According to their explanation, the bundles of hair ice, as they have been described in lay terms, represent the creation of rotting fungi. The latter develop in these forms when in contact with the humid and cold atmosphere of the Swiss and German woods.
There are many types of fungus-based hair ice formations in woods, but there is one that appears to be more common, according to researchers’ observations. Exidiopsis effuse has been found in many other locations, around the studies locations; therefore, scientists have concluded that this fungus is the main responsible for these interesting formations.
Christian Mätzler, one of the physicists at University of Bern in Switzerland and the leader of the current research told the press that he only superficially observed the behavior of the hair ice at first. The first tests he has made saw the gradual and rapid melting of the hair ice in the hands of the scientists. Based on this observation, the researcher has concluded that the fungus-based hair ice behaves more or less like regular ice because it disappears in contact with sun rays or warm skin.
The presence of the Exidiopsis effuse species of fungus has been proven through multiple chemical analyses that the scientists have performed. Researchers have, thus, been able to identify lignin and tannin in the hair ice, a strong indicator of fungus formations.
Mätzler has further told the press that the hair ice is formed as water is frozen in contact with the cold temperatures of the wood. Other water drops are then, attracted to the thin layer of ice, causing them to take various unrealistic forms as they evolve into hair ice. The scientist has concluded that the fungus helps direct the hair ice and models it in various forms.
Image source: livescience.com