It is early morning. Just after the first golden rays of sunlight have broken through the dark curtain of night. As I drive into Beckley Creek Park my vision is obscured by something. Something eerie, something that seems older than the forest itself.
Fisherman on the William F. Miles Lakes move in and out of sight like silent ghosts. Joggers and bikers braving the early morning chill appear seemingly out of nowhere. I am surrounded, engulfed, consumed, lost, and then…it’s gone.
What was obscuring my vision you may ask? Fog.
Fog is a ground level cloud that forms when the air temperature lowers to the dew point or within 5° Fahrenheit. Fog generally forms overnight as the ground is cooled by the night sky. As the night in a valley becomes cool, clear, and calm the ground radiates (releases) energy gained from the sun during the day into space. As the earth’s surface continues to cool, provided a deep enough layer of moist air is present near the ground, the humidity will reach 100% and fog will form. This type of fog is called radiation fog.Photo from http://charliesweatherforecasts.blogspot.com/
After fog develops overnight, it usually persists until the sun rises. Afterwards it begins to dissipate. When the sun rises, the energy from the sun begins to warm the ground surrounding the fog, and the top layer of the fog. As the sun’s energy begins to warm the ground, the air molecules closest to the ground begin to warm by conduction from the ground. This causes the air molecules at the ground surrounding the fog to become relatively warm. This warming of the air causes the air around the perimeter of the fog to rise. Energy from the sun is able to warm the top layers of the fog which causes the air temperature in those layers to increase. The air temperature increases away from the dew point temperature, and causes the fog to start evaporating. As the sun continues to rise, more of the sun’s energy is able to reach deeper and further into the perimeter of the fog. Eventually the fog evaporates.
The picture above shows radiation fog on Angler Lake, evaporating as the sun rises.
Fog forms more often in the fall and winter. So come out to The Parklands on a cool, early fall morning and get lost in the fog!
Curtis, hired as Education Coordinator in March 2015, previously served as an Interpretive Ranger for the Parklands. As Education Coordinator, Curtis oversees programming and staffing for The Parklands Outdoor Classroom, based in the PNC Achievement Center for Education and Interpretation. A native of Louisville and a graduate of Ballard High School, Curtis returns to Louisville after having worked as an environmental educator in Maine and Colorado at Acadia and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Curtis also served as Membership Manager at the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Curtis enjoys hiking, biking, camping and kayaking.
Being a donor-supported public park means we rely on donations, not tax dollars, for annual operations each year. Because of your generosity, we are able to maintain, program, and further develop this extraordinary public space without charging an entry fee. Together we work to enhance quality of life and help our community and economy grow in ways that are healthy, sustainable, and enjoyable for people of all ages. Help us reach our goal of sustaining The Parklands by becoming a Member today. Members make it happen!
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