Monday, June 20, 2011

A Gift From the Sea

The beautiful Pacific Ocean is about 95 miles to the west of us and sometimes she gives us the gift of a marine layer (sea fog) so thick, tall and powerful that it reaches all the way to the mountains where I live. It does this less often than it used to; over 6,000 feet is a VERY deep marine layer nowadays.

It usually laps around the lower elevations, looking very like waves breaking against a steep rocky shoreline. It's hard to believe that the San Bernardino valley with its cities and hundreds of thousands inhabitants lies beneath that beautiful, undulating sea of fog. It's like being on an island. In fact, that is what mountain ranges like this one are called: Sky Islands, meaning a high altitude alpine environment surrounded by desert on all sides. They occur in California, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico and, tragically, are disappearing at an ever-faster rate due to climate change.

The marine layer pushes into the canyons and up over the low ridges, then flows down into the alpine valleys, sometimes filling them up completely. The marine layer is a gift of life to the pines and cedars, for they wrap the mist around them until there is enough to drip off their needles and fronds, giving their roots a good drink of water...from the Pacific Ocean.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely gorgeous! We get this sky island effect on a much smaller scale with mist rising from the river.


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