Even NASA Is Puzzled By These Ice Circles In The Arctic Ocean

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The annual IceBridge mission is done to monitor Earth's climate and weather patterns, in which the diminishing sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean plays a significant role.

Ice geophysicist Don Perovich, from Dartmouth College in the United Kingdom, said: 'The ice is likely thin, soft, and mushy and somewhat pliable, this can be seen in the wave-like features in front of the middle "amoeba"'.

"I don't recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere."

Chris Sherman, who is a glaciologist - someone who studies snow and ice - at the University of Maryland, thinks that it could be caused by convection. Indeed, that's similar to one answer NASA has come up with: the holes bear a resemblance to photographs of breathing holes harp seals and ring seals have created.

The aerial survey - part of ongoing research trips that started about 10 years ago - was conducted by scientist John Sonntag, the lead researcher on NASA's Operation IceBridge project, charting sea ice levels on both poles of the Earth.

One of the reasons for the appearance of the holes may be the movement of ice.

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However, as NASA have not been back to take a closer inspection of the mysterious ice holes in the Arctic Ocean, at the moment everything is mere conjecture while scientists try to work out the cause of the circles from a photograph.

"The ice is likely thin, soft, and mushy and somewhat pliable". "This can be seen in the wave-like features in front of the middle 'amoeba'".

You might not know Sonntag's name, but you've nearly definitely seen his photographic portfolio before, as his day job sees him aerially documenting the wintry, white vistas that define the world's evolving Arctic and Antarctic landscapes.

Don also pointed out the image shows evidence of finger rafting, a phenomenon when two floes of thin ice collide above and below each other in a pattern that resembles a zipper or interlocking fingers. The images revealed an extremely unusual range of shapes and structures of the sea ice. One speculation suggests that they may have been not so much formed but gnawed out by seals to create pockets where they can habitually use to breathe. Sonntag had never seen holes like this before; writing from the field, he said, "We saw these sorta-circular features only for a few minutes today".

"The encircling features may be due to waves of water washing out over the snow and ice when the seals surface", theorized Walt Meier, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

"The other possibility is that warmer water from Beaufort currents or out of the Mackenzie River is finding its way to the surface due to interacting with the bathymetry, just the way some polynyas form", Shuman added.

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