Vertical Ice Slab, Wisconsin, USA by Daniel Anderson

Picture Story

I am fortunate to live in Wisconsin at the tip of an 80 mile long peninsula that sticks out into Lake Michigan. There are wonderful photographic opportunities in every season but my favorite time is winter. That does not mean that it is always easy or pleasant to photograph at this time and this image is a perfect example of that. Ice shoves are phenomenon that occur every winter but rarely in the same place.

In the late winter, usually Late Febrary to early April, the bay ice sheet begins to break up. The conditions needed for ice shove formation are a strong offshore wind which breaks up the ice and sends it offshore followed by a strong onshore wind that starts the ice moving back to shore. The mass and momentum of the ice is tremendous and when the front of the moving ice is stopped by the shore or a shallow reef, then the ice behind is still moving and it begins to pile up into a shove. These usually form in a matter of just a few hours and may end up being just a few feet high or up to 40 feet high of very unstable ice. They are highly photogenic until the next snowstorm covers them or they collapse so the window to photograph them may be very short.

I began exploring this one the morning after it formed and was delighted to see that it had a large slab of ice tipped vertically which made it one of the more photogenic ice shoves I have seen. The dangerous aspect of this shove was that it was about 100 yards offshore and the ice was not stable enough for me to risk walking out to it so I explored it only with my drone. I came back to see what it would look like at sunset and found that meltwater formed a little pool on the ice during the day which allowed this reflection to be the subject of this composition.

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