1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Unusual "Ice Boulders" on Lake Michigan are being promoted by some as evidence of a secret "geoengineering" program, when actually they are a natural phenomena that simply does not happen every winter because it needs certain combinations of weather conditions.



    And here's a historical account from the 1966 book Air photo interpretation of Great Lakes ice features:


    Yet some alternative theorists suggest they are so unusual they must be evidence of a secret program of geoengineering:

    But as we above, the claim "never before seen until the last few years" is just flat wrong. In fact there's a 1966 book with multiple reports going back to the 1940s. So how did this misconception arise?

    The problem with rare phenomena is that they don't happen very often.

    Since they happen so infrequently, people often encounter them as new things. This becomes a particular problem in the early decades of the internet age (i.e. now, and for the next few decades). Because of the huge proliferation of phones that take photos and record videos, and the easy transmission of these over the internet, then there every-ten-years-or-so rare events which might just a mention in the local news (if that - as they are not so interesting to locals) become a national story, because it's unusual and interesting.

    Ball Ice has of course happened before, as shown above, and it's even happened in even in the internet age. Here's one story from 2002:

    Here's a more recent example from Sweden in 2010:
    Note again how even more rare this is in Sweden. Three since the 1950s means about one every 20 years. Plenty of time for them to seem like a new thing.

    Here's an account from the 1999 book "Huron: The Seasons of a Great Lake"
    http://books.google.com/books?id=8HQoq7R0nWQC&lpg=PA47&dq=frazil ice balls&pg=PA48#v=onepage&q=frazil ice balls&f=false
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2016
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  2. Svartbjørn

    Svartbjørn Senior Member

    ... They look like Tim Horton's donut holes. Everyone in the Great Lakes area should recognize THAT.
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  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

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  4. Svartbjørn

    Svartbjørn Senior Member

    Is that curling caused by the same types of forces that cause the pancakes Mick?
  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    No, the pancakes have raised edges from loose sheets of slush bumping into each other.
    The curling in rabbit ice is probably from a combination of wind and gravity.
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  6. Svartbjørn

    Svartbjørn Senior Member

    Ahh ok, I see.. its the difference between wind action on the crystals while they're forming, and the action of the waves on sheets already formed... makes sense now that youve said that.
  7. Aeribous

    Aeribous New Member

    I lived in Chicago my whole life and though ice balls don't happen often they do happen often enough. When I saw the pic on the home page I knew exactly what they were. This reminds me of people who say the polar vortex term didn't exist before this last winter. I always ask them if they remember the real cold winter of 94-95 because tom skilling(local meteorologist) who loves to explain weather phenomenon was talking everyday about the polar vortex during that extra cold winter.
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  8. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    The polar vortex term seems to only date back to the 1950s, possibly starting with this 1959 paper:
    Interestingly they note that they were only able to properly study it very recently (for them, i.e. after WWII), with "the post-war expansion of the northern rawinsonde network" (i.e. weather balloons).

    So it's a relatively new concept, and it only makes the news in the US every decade or two when there's a big winter storm that the vortex oscillations push south. So yes, very similar in term of people thinking it's a "new thing".

    Attached Files:

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  9. solrey

    solrey Senior Member

    Those ice boulders are made by the same process that forms the smooth round stones at Cobble Beach Oregon, albeit on a different time scale. Pieces break off and are worn smooth by the wave action. Walking across that beach as your feet sink into its thick layer of cobbles with the sound of the waves tinkling through those stones as the water pours back into the sea is quite an awesome experience.

    Here are a couple of pics I took on that beach the day after christmas 2013.

    DSCN5774.JPG DSCN5781.JPG

    More info on Cobble Beach:

  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I think the "rounded pieces of ice" was just speculation. The actual literature says they are accumulations of slush and/or frazil ice (ice formed in water at or slightly below the freezing point).
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  11. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    I'm bumping this thread because Dane Wigington is once again claiming, due to ice balls in Siberia, (bold inserted for emphasis):
  12. Trailspotter

    Trailspotter Senior Member

    Here is the link to a recent BBC page about this phenomenon, which contains a video:
    Giant snowballs appear on beach in Siberia

    There can be 'uniform' balls on beaches made of other materials too.

    Balls of mazut (crude oil), which I saw after a storm on a beach in Bintan, Indonesia, facing the Singapore Strait.

    Balls of sea grass on a beach in Oasi Faunistica di Vendicari, Sicily.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2016
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