A Darwinian Perspective on Alexandra Falls

Sightseers push the envelope to get a view of Alexandra Falls on the Hay River, NWT (Canada), April 29, 2008

At ~30 m (~100 feet) high, Alexandra Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Canada. It is spectacular to see in summer and majestic when captured in its winter ice – but frankly that’s all pretty tame stuff compared to what you can see during river breakup. Each spring, massive ice floes spill over the lip of the falls as the Hay River breaks up. If you saw the “Making of Frozen Planet special that aired recently – then you got a chance to see the awesome power of this river, including shots of a dramatic ice run raging over these falls during the 2009 breakup. If you missed it – no problem – you can still see it at this link. After watching it, I am sure you would agree – it’s pretty insane to stand on the lip of the falls at any time, but it’s especially dangerous during breakup, since there is little advance warning of when the next ice run will come along. I can’t believe that someone would actually carry a small child down there!

Note – you can access a second video clip at that same Discovery Channel link which describes our river ice research at Hay River. Or click here to go directly to the video clip. For those of you in the UK and EU – you can watch the same video clip on the Frozen Planet website.

(photo by C. Mahabir, UofA River Ice Group: Olympus uD 500, f/3.4, ISO-64, FL 8 mm, 1/500 sec. exposure time)

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About Faye Hicks

I am a professor emeritus, civil engineer, animal lover and writer.
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