Strange Holes in the Ice

Some Strange Holes in the Ice

Operation IceBridge, a NASA program, has been making yearly flights over the Arctic and over the Antarctic for nearly a decade.

Using the most sophisticated imaging techniques possible and flying a P3 Orion aircraft, they are hoping to understand more about the North and South poles. Operation IceBridge is a 2009–2018 NASA mission that aims to monitor changes in polar ice from an aircraft. It is a temporary replacement for the ICESat satellite until the ICESat-2 launch in 2018.

On April 14, 2018, IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag spotted something he had never seen before, some strange circular holes in the Arctic Sea ice.

Sonntag snapped this photograph from the window of the P-3 research plane while flying over the eastern Beaufort Sea. At the time, the aircraft’s location was 69.71° North and 138.22° West, about 50 miles northwest of Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta.

NASA Scientists aren’t exactly sure what caused the holes in the Artic sea ice. Speculation is that it might be warming seawater that’s causing the ice to melt. Or it’s possible that seals could have gnawed the ice so that could surface and breathe.

As of late… It remains a mystery.

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