By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
January 28, 2014
With unrelenting cold bearing down on the nation, some may dread the dead of winter. However, the cold also brings with it some surprising benefits.
1. Reduced Number of Tree-Killing Bugs
Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive inspect species is known to feed on the bark of trees as larvae, ultimately cutting of the trees water and nutrient supply and resulting in the death of the tree.
However, low temperatures bring hope for ash trees, as lower temperatures are known to kill more of these insects, according to U.S. Forest Service Research Biologist Robert Venette.
In this Oct. 26, 2011 photo, forester Jeff Wiegert, of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, points out the markings left from emerald ash borer larvae on an ash tree at Esopus Bend Nature Preserve in Saugerties, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
“Around minus 20 F, we typically expect around 50 percent of the insects to be potentially killed and closer to minus 30 F almost 90 percent of the insects can be killed,” Venette said.
Another harmful species, impacted by colder weather is the gypsy moth.
“It can only handle temperatures down to minus 15 to minus 17 degrees,” Venette said. “We think that areas that got colder than that will probably see fewer insects.”
2. Better Recovery from Exercise
A new study shows that the therapy method known as cryotherapy, the exposure of the body to low temperatures for therapy purposes, may be the most effective recovery method for runners suffering from exercise-related damage and pain.
In this study, researchers used three methods of recovery, cold exposure, heat and rest, on runners with muscle damage to see technique proved to be best.
The results of the test concluded that the athletes who received cryotherapy gained back muscle strength more quickly and recovered faster than those who experienced the other two recovery procedures.
3. Ice Caves Open Along Lake Superior
Only accessible during the winter months in very specific conditions, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ice caves along Lake Superior in Michigan, provide a memorable winter scene for those lucky enough to make the hike.
Walls of ice encrust the lower cliffs where wave spray has frozen on the rock in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. (Photo/U.S. National Park Service).
Due to depth of the Great Lakes, the caves are only accessible by foot when the lake surface has completely frozen. A two-mile trek atop the frozen tundra is required to reach the caves, where various formations of icicles hang from the cliffs.
Before heading out, adventurists should be sure to check with the National Park Service for the latest park alerts and ice conditions.