Arctic Sea Ice Feature Puzzles NASA

Posted by Kyle Brookings on Wednesday, April 25, 2018

NASA is puzzled over ice holes in the eastern Beaufort Sea.

The ice holes were spotted on April 14 north of Canada.

NASA’s Operation IceBridge—the airborne mission flown annually over both polar regions—is now in its tenth year making flights over the Arctic.

But on April 14, 2018, IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag spotted something he had never seen before.

Sonntag snapped this photograph from the window of the P-3 research plane while flying over the eastern Beaufort Sea. “We saw these sorta-circular features only for a few minutes today,” Sonntag wrote from the field. “I don’t recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere.”

Some aspects of the image are easy to explain. The sea ice here is clearly young ice growing within what was once a long, linear area of open water, or lead. “The ice is likely thin, soft, and mushy and somewhat pliable,” said Don Perovich, a sea ice geophysicist at Dartmouth College.



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