Tech & Science Nasa Can't Explain Images of Strange Ice Circles in Arctic Sea

10:45  23 april  2018
10:45  23 april  2018 Source:   europe.newsweek.com

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NASA satellites have monitored Arctic sea ice since 1978. Cycles of natural variability such as the Arctic Oscillation are known to play a role in Arctic sea ice extent, but the sharp decline cannot be explained by natural variability alone.

Home » News & Blogs » Curious Circles in Arctic Sea Ice . (200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post). Scientists pose an array of explanations for the strange circular features visible on sea ice in the eastern Beaufort Sea .

a close up of a logo: The holes may be the result of sea mammals. © Provided by IBT Media (UK) The holes may be the result of sea mammals. In a routine flyover in the Arctic ocean earlier this month, a NASA scientist photographed images of mysterious ice holes over the eastern Beaufort Sea. The holes appear to be the first of their kind ever captured on film, and researchers are struggling to understand what they are and how they got there.

NASA’s Operation IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag captured the images on April 14, marking in his field log, “I don’t recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere,” NASA reported. The holes were noted about 50 miles northwest of Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta, and although the main purpose of the trip was to make observations of sea ice, somehow the mysterious holes became the highlight of the trip.

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Average concentration of Arctic sea ice for November 2016. Daily extent of sea ice in 2016 and every year since 1979. Image via NASA . November was no better, setting record lows each day.

According to a new NASA study, Arctic perennial sea ice has been decreasing at a rate of 9 percent per decade since the 1970s. The image above shows a comparison of composites over the Arctic Circle , acquired in 1979 (top) and 2003 (bottom) by the DMSP Special Sensor Microwave Imager

Fellow IceBridge project scientist Nathan Kurtz explained that while he can tell from the image that the holes exist in area of thin ice, he’s still not sure what created them.“I’m not sure what kind of dynamics could lead to the semi-circle shaped features surrounding the holes. I have never seen anything like that before,” said Kurtz, NASA reported.

Walt Meier, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center suggested that the circles may be a result of water washing over the snow and ice as seals surface for air. “Or it could be a sort of drainage feature that results from when the hole is made in the ice,” Meier told NASA.

Chris Shuman, a University of Maryland at Baltimore County glaciologist based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center instead suggested the holes may be the result of warm water melting through the arctic ocean, either from warm springs, groundwater flowing from the inland mountains or from certain currents making its way to the ocean’s surface.

At the moment, with only a photograph, what caused the holes will remain a mystery. At least until more information about the holes can be gathered.

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