Mystery Holes in Arctic Ice Baffle NASA


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A NASA Aircraft spotted something within the Arctic Ice that has been said to have “never been seen before”.

An April 14 flyover of the frozen Beaufort Sea by a P-3 research plane, part of NASA’s annual survey of the poles called Operation IceBridge, revealed three unexpected punctures in the sea’s ice,” reported

“We saw these sorta-circular features only for a few minutes today,” Ice Bridge mission scientists John Sonntag wrote to “I don’t recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere.”

The holes are located in an area of young sea ice roughly 50 miles northwest of Canada’s Mackenzie River Delta. The current leading theory is that they were gnawed out by seals in need of breathing holes during trips under the frozen surface, according to

One species, the ringed seal, has sharp claws on its front flippers measuring more than an inch thick. They’ve been known to carve breathing holes out of sea ice as deep as seven feet, explained

Walt Meier, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center stated that the encircling features, those lighter areas of ice around the holes “may be due to waves of water washing out over the snow and ice when the seals surface,” reported

If the phenomenon isn’t caused by seals or other animals puncturing holes in the ice, another theory that suggests the holes were a result of naturally occurring weather phenomenon that hasn’t been studied closely yet, stated

“The other possibility is that warmer water from Beaufort Currents or out of the Mackenzie River is finding its way to the surface due to interacting with the bathymetry, just the way some polynyas form,” stated Chris Shuman, a University of Maryland at Baltimore County glacioloist based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

If you have a theory to why these holes were created, you can visit NASA’s website and leave your idea in the comments.