For a decade now, NASA has been combing the Arctic by air to try to better understand the region. However, it seems that it will take some time for the North American agency to reveal the area.
An example of this are the strange circles that are appearing in the ice formations near the Beaufort Sea.
These designs were recently spotted and photographed by scientist John Sonntag from inside a NASA P-3 plane. The specialist has been undertaking missions in the Arctic for some time, but he is always surprised by the strange things that appear there. This time, what aroused his curiosity were these circles, which sometimes appear accompanied by holes in the middle of the ice.
The first time Sonntag saw these marks was north of the Mackenzie River, and soon he realized that this was unlike anything he had ever seen.
The discovery intrigued scientists, who have not yet come to any conclusions about what the markings could mean. There are those who say that there are some reasons to believe that this layer of ice with the marked holes was formed recently from an accumulation of water.
“This ice is probably thin, soft and inconsistent and somewhat malleable,” said a geophysicist at the Britannia Royal Naval College in the UK. “This can be seen in the ‘almost waves’ formed in front of the holes.”
Another indication that the ice is new is that the holes are emerging by a kind of rafting movement, which come from right to left, as indicated in the photo at the top of the article. Scientists call this movement ‘finger-rafting’. This zigzag pattern happens when two layers of ice collide with each other, resulting in finger-like bumps on the surface.
“This is definitely an area of thin ice, as you can see the ‘finger-rafting’ close to the holes and the gray colorings are enough to indicate that there is little ice cover,” said another scientist who is working on the ice region. Although he is sure about the recent formation of the ice, the expert still does not know what circles and holes are.
Another idea that other scientists are raising is that these marks could be being created by animals in the region, such as, for example, seals, which would be chewing the ice to create holes through which they could breathe on the surface.
If that’s the case, it’s possible that the larger circles surrounding the holes are just pools of icy water that the animals leave on the ice when they emerge to the surface. It could also be a certain drainage formed when the hole is made in the ice.
However, if the phenomenon is not caused by seals or other local animals and discarding the possibility of being the result of extraterrestrial explorations in the ice, it is possible that this is the end of a natural phenomenon that science still does not know.
“The drawings are in parts of shallow water, so chances are these marks are just ‘warm water springs’ or ‘groundwater leaks flowing from mountains,'” said another NASA scientist. “Another possibility is that a stream of warm water from the Beaufort Sea or even out of the Mackenzie River is reaching the surface of the ice due to its interaction with bathymetry, just as some pollinia form.”
Polynyas are areas of open water surrounded by sea ice. In the face of high wind conditions, polynya behave like outdoor ice factories, producing more than normal ice formations, including exotic forms.
While science does not discover what these circles and holes in the Arctic ice actually are, speculation continues.