– Scientists are confronted with an unusual weather phenomenon. Several, very odd and large ice balls have suddenly appeared on Byske beach, just outside of Skellefteå, Sweden.
The ice balls were spotted by Peter Lundström who runs a company called Swenature and works as a nature guide.
On Tuesday morning, while guiding a couple of British journalists along the Byske coast, he suddenly noticed something he has never seen before.
“There were plenty of ice balls scattered across the beach. At the beach there were plenty of ice balls. Some were small, but many were really large.
The journalists from UK were confused and asked how we could call this a beach when it’s all covered with stones and there is no place one can take a bath.
I had to explain to them, these are not rocks but ice. Normally, it’s a sand beach here in the summer,” Lundtröm said.
Thousands of ice balls are often visible on the shores of lakes, but these were different. They were so hard one could walk on the ice balls and they were all filled with sand.
Swedish meteorologists who are familiar with ice balls said it’s unusual they are so large and hard.How and why ice balls like these suddenly is still debated.
“The problem is that they are formed when the wind blows a lot and no-one is there and can observed them, especially when they become so large,” Weine Josefsson, meteorologist at SMHI, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute said.
According to scientists ice balls likely form when rolls of light snow are blown from the shore into water which is at or just below freezing, but fails to form uniform ice due to strong winds.
The rolls of snow are then tossed about in the chilly waters, where wave action eventually shapes them into balls of ice.Similar ice balls were observed on the Baltic island of Öland off Sweden’s southeastern coast in 2010.A week before Christmas, Magnus Bladh of the Ottenby bird station, located on Öland’s southern cape, was strolling along the beach with a colleague when he saw dozens of football-sized balls of ice lying on the shore.
“Temperatures were below freezing and there was a light wind, but it was very cold! In the seaweed we noticed at least 200 large ice balls,” he said in a report to SMHI.
“The balls varied in size but the biggest ones were quite large, some larger than a football.”
What puzzled Bladh was that the balls were resting on the west side of a bed of seaweed, even though the prevailing winds were from the east.
When Bladh and his colleagues later broke open one of the ice balls, they discovered that it consisted of a 2 to 5 centimeter thick shell of ice, which covered a core of soft, wet snow.