Mysterious Ice Circles In The Arctic Ocean Have Left NASA Scientists Puzzled

The ice holes were found 50 miles away from Canada, and so far, scientists haven't figured out the exact cause of this intriguing sight.

NASA spot mysterious ice circles in the Arctic Ocean.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

The ice holes were found 50 miles away from Canada, and so far, scientists haven't figured out the exact cause of this intriguing sight.

While flying over the Arctic Ocean, a NASA scientist recently spotted strange ice circles which left him mystified, as holes of this kind have never been seen before in photographs, and NASA is currently working through different theories of what may have caused the odd circles embedded in the ice.

Scientist John Sonntag, who is part of NASA’s Operation: IceBridge, noted that he had never seen anything like this on any of his other missions, as Newsweek report.

“I don’t recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere.”

The mystery ice circles were located around 50 miles away from the Mackenzie River Delta in Canada, and while Sonntag’s official job was to closely scrutinize ice around the Arctic Ocean, after seeing the strange holes, his mission quickly became one of trying to solve how they got there in the first place.

Nathan Kurtz, another NASA scientist, who is also part of the Operation: IceBridge mission, has analyzed the photograph of the holes and explained that while it seemed apparent that the ice in this region of the Arctic Ocean was clearly quite thin, he too was not able to immediately ascertain how the circles had been formed in the ice.

“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.”

The National Snow and Ice Data Center’s Walt Meier has put forward the theory that the circles could be something as simple as water from the Arctic Ocean drifting over the ice and forming the holes when seals pop up and has speculated that it could also be “a sort of drainage feature that results from when the hole is made in the ice.”

Glaciologist Chris Schuman, who works with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center, postulates that as warm water circulates through the Arctic Ocean, it is certainly feasible that ice circles of this kind could be created. This warm water could be the result of warm springs, as well as different currents that flood their way through the Arctic Ocean and eventually reach the top, carving circular shapes in the sheets of ice.

However, as NASA has 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.