Ice mystery

Our story continues.

When trying to identify this odd pattern in Norway’s winter ice, for some reason the first two suspects were meteorite fragments and crop circles. Tabloid journalism aside, this was only slightly silly – a meteorite had likely fallen and scattered across Norway. What followed, no matter the extent of your skeptical nature, is a good exercise in Fortean studies, one of my favorite topics.

Yesterday’s post covered the astronomy side of the story, and the announced search for the missing meteorite that is still going on. What set off this particular detour into the paranormal was not just a mysterious pattern in the surface ice of this small lake in Arnavågen in Bergen (also reported as Arna), but an associated light.

Newspaper Bergens Tidende reported on its web site that 77-year-old Ole Johan Hansen spotted a mysterious light near the body of water, and the next morning the curious pattern had formed on the ice there. In the course of the night a symmetrical pattern had formed, apparently from roughly eight holes. Hansen says that neither he nor neighbor John Halvor Sæle had seen the holes before the pattern appeared.

When meteorologist Geir Ottar Fagerlid told a local paper that the phenomenon reminded him of crop circles, it was only a matter of time before the reporting got stranger. Neighbor Sæle wondered if the meteorite could be responsible.

“That was the first thing I thought of. I don’t believe it can be made by people. It is too large and too far from land. It is completely inexplicable,” Sæle told the paper. Ice circles do have that advantage over crop circles in the mystery department – people trying to make one will likely fall through.

Celeb astrophysicist Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard was of course summoned for his opinion. Theoretically,  small meteorite fragments could be responsible, he mused, but this was extremely unlikely. In such a case the object would have been sighted by more people, and would have appeared as a shining stripe across the night sky before landing in Arna.

“This is completely fascinating. I have never seen anything like it,” Ødegaard said. “But I don’t believe it is anything supernatural. Probably the symmetrical pattern has formed from holes from ice fishing, and the concentric circles are from the rise and fall of the water ebbing and flowing. That isn’t unusual, even if it never looks as symmetrical as this.”

The light Hansen spotted stumps everyone. Ødegaard wonders if it could have been from people fishing out on the ice, but there are no tracks in the snow (which should rule out the ice fishing hole theory as well, no?). There do not appear to be reflections that can explain it either. But the light does rule out a meteorite.

“A meteorite that is still shining when it hits the ground has the power of at least 1000 atom bombs. In that case Bergen wouldn’t be here today,” says Ødegaard drily.

So we know what it wasn’t. Time to call in the paranormal authorities.

Next – crop circles and Fortean expertise.

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