NASA, too, baffled by odd ice circles spotted in Arctic

25 April, 2018, 01:09 | Author: Chad Warren
  • Arctic circles

NASA's Operation IceBridge leader John Sonntag first spotted the mysterious holes 80 kilometres northwest of Canada's Mackenzie River Delta two weeks ago and does not know what they are.

After capturing the moment from the window of the P-3 research plane, scientists then began speculating what it could be.

Some parts of the image remain hard to explain, though - most especially the mysterious ice circles, which are something IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag had never seen previously. "I don't recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere", Sonntag wrote during the mission.

NASA has found never-before-seen circular formations over the Arctic which have left scientists across the world scratching their heads.

Not content to keep the bafflement in-house, or perhaps as a fishing expedition, the folks at Nasa presented the photo to the space-curious public. But Dartmouth College sea ice geophysicist Don Perovich doesn't think so, because the effects would be broader, he says.

With only a photograph, the ice circles are an enigma that won't be explained without more in-depth missions. They aren't quite sure what caused them, although they ventured a few ideas, including heat, thin ice, and even rogue seals.

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"It's definitely an area of thin ice, as you can see finger rafting near the holes and the colour is grey enough to indicate little snow cover", says IceBridge project scientist Nathan Kurtz, explaining the ice landscape surrounding the holes.

Chris Polashenski, a sea ice scientist at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, said he has seen these features before, but can not properly explain them.

They conducted a six-month analysis of the polar shapok in the two hemispheres, which used "the most sophisticated Suite of innovative scientific instruments in history", including laser altimeters, lidar, aircraft and satellites NASA.

Chris Polashenski, a sea ice scientist at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, told NASA the circles could be breathing holes for seals or something caused by convection.

"This is in pretty shallow water generally, so there is every chance this is just "warm springs" or seeps of ground water flowing from the mountains inland that make their presence known in this particular area", said Chris Shuman, a University of Maryland at Baltimore County glaciologist, according to NASA. Initial analysis revealed that ice was thin and young and as per The National Snow and Ice Data Center's Walt Meier, the holes might have been formed due to the Arctic Ocean water drifting over the ice.