Ice – Organic Antifreeze

Ice – Organic Antifreeze

Music; Ambience : Arctic Wind, Toads

Forests ponds are filled with chirps and croaks during the summer months, but where do these summertime singers go in the chill of winter? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Animals that live in wintery climates must find ways to make it through the frigid months. Mariana Gosnell is the author of “Ice: the Nature, the History and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance.” She says that some animals’ wintertime adaptations are quite ingenuous.

“The wood frogs have a system for withstanding cold temperatures that is really amazing. Once a spot of water on their skin freezes, that triggers their liver to start putting out sugar. Immense amounts of sugar. And sugar can act as an anti-freeze. Sort of protecting some of the vital organs. But, once those are protected, 75 percent of its water in its little body can freeze solid. Until it looks like just a little disc. And it goes into a sort of suspended state and it can stay like that apparently, no beating heart or brain activity or anything, until you decide to thaw it.

It’s not just frogs that manage to outsmart the freezeinsects do it too.

“One of their tricks is to make their own anti-freezes. And in one case, they use the very same anti-freeze that is in your car. One scientist pointed out that the proportion of antifreeze in the body fluid of a particular caterpillargall mothis nearly as high in winter40 percentas is the proportion of ethylene glycol fluids added to car radiators in Southern Canada in winter, which is 50 percent.”

Check out our podcasts on pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Ice - Organic Antifreeze

How do small creatures make it through the brutal winter months?
Air Date:01/05/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

Ice - Organic Antifreeze

Music; Ambience : Arctic Wind, Toads

Forests ponds are filled with chirps and croaks during the summer months, but where do these summertime singers go in the chill of winter? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Animals that live in wintery climates must find ways to make it through the frigid months. Mariana Gosnell is the author of "Ice: the Nature, the History and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance." She says that some animals' wintertime adaptations are quite ingenuous.

"The wood frogs have a system for withstanding cold temperatures that is really amazing. Once a spot of water on their skin freezes, that triggers their liver to start putting out sugar. Immense amounts of sugar. And sugar can act as an anti-freeze. Sort of protecting some of the vital organs. But, once those are protected, 75 percent of its water in its little body can freeze solid. Until it looks like just a little disc. And it goes into a sort of suspended state and it can stay like that apparently, no beating heart or brain activity or anything, until you decide to thaw it.

It's not just frogs that manage to outsmart the freezeinsects do it too.

"One of their tricks is to make their own anti-freezes. And in one case, they use the very same anti-freeze that is in your car. One scientist pointed out that the proportion of antifreeze in the body fluid of a particular caterpillargall mothis nearly as high in winter40 percentas is the proportion of ethylene glycol fluids added to car radiators in Southern Canada in winter, which is 50 percent."

Check out our podcasts on pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.