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Ice circles — nature's bizarre geometric formations
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   Throughout the winter season, if conditions are proper, something unusual can occur in lakes, creeks, and rivers. I’m talking about ice circles. Even in this day and age, people still wonder if something supernatural is going on, when they see these ice circles. 

Ice circles

   Ice circles are called ice discs or ice pans, as well. Most of the time, they have been spotted in Scandinavia and North America, even though ice circles have been observed in England and Wales too. 

How are “ice circles” formed?
   There are still questions when it comes to how ice circles appear in waters all over the world, questions that are greatly different from each other.
   Ice circles are very rare natural phenomenon which happens just in slow moving water at a specific speed and at a proper temperature. Any variations when it comes to these variables will alter the formation and will generate irregular or cracked ice discs.
   Ice circles constitute thin plates of ice which can spin at slow speed and are created by eddy currents. Each plate of ice differs in size but they can have more than 15 meters (49 ft).
   Every river, stream, creek or lake that makes ice pans, does so under similar conditions, however in ways that are different from one location to another. Therefore, according to scientists, it’s almost impossible to forecast the existence or formation of ice discs as they naturally appear.

How do “ice circles” look like?  
   Ice circles typically appear at the middle of the lake and get their form by grinding the edges to its sides, creating a smooth circle. Certain ice circles may have an irregular shape, while others may form in cluster. Nevertheless, perfect discs are extremely rare and reported just a small number of times. 

Ice circle

Interesting facts

  • One of the earliest recordings is of a slowly spinning circle observed on the Mianus River and reported in an 1895 issue of the magazine called Scientific American.
  • Conforming to one of numerous theories, tectonic activity deep within the Earth may be accountable for methane gas discharges, which in turn generate an increasing mass of warm water.



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Published by Claudia Barbu


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