Monday, January 14, 2013

Episode 144 (1-14-13): Ice on the Pond

Click to listen to episode (2:25).

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of January 14, 2013.

This week, we feature another mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 20 seconds, and see if you can guess where these pinging and clinking sounds were recorded.  And here’s a hint: Through thick and thin, this surface floats above a watery world.  


If you guessed ice on a pond, you’re right!  Those were the sounds of pebbles bouncing on a solid layer of pond ice, followed by the cracking of thin ice on a thawing pond.  Ice cover is an annual fact of life and temperature for ponds and lakes in northern states and Canada, but even in Virginia, many water bodies typically ice over during some part of the winter.  Under that layer, aquatic inhabitants continue to carry out their winter-survival strategies.  Burrowed in the mud may be inactive fish, frogs, turtles, insects, worms, and eggs of various animals, while certain kinds of fish, insects, and other animals continue to be active.  But in shallow water bodies, an ice cover can reduce significantly the oxygen dissolved in water that aquatic animals need.  Heavy ice and snow block light that algae use to produce oxygen through photosynthesis, and an ice barrier prevents mixing of water with the atmosphere and circulation of oxygen throughout a water body.  Together, these conditions can lead to a winterkill of fish and other aquatic animals. 

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

Pond in Blacksburg, Virginia, with a thin ice layer, December 28, 2012.

Acknowledgments: Sounds in this episode were pebbles bouncing on an ice-covered pond in Blacksburg, Va., December 28, 2012, and breaking of thin ice on the same pond on January 13, 2013.  Thanks to passer-by Sam for help in recording the sounds of rocks bouncing on ice.

Sources: Information on winter habitats and behavior of aquatic organisms was taken from Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, by B.S. Martof et al. (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1980); Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, by J. R. Voshell, Jr. (Blacksburg, Va.: McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, 2002); Limnology, 2nd Edition, by R. G. Wetzel (Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing, 1983); Textbook of Limnology, 2nd Edition, by G. A. Cole  (St. Louis: C.V. Mosby Company, 1979); and Where They Go in Winter, by M. W. Buck (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1968).

Recent Virginia Water News
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Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.