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Mysterious giant ice balls discovered on Swedish coastline
Bird watchers walking along the beach on the Baltic island of Öland off Sweden’s southeastern coast were puzzled by an unusual natural phenomenon recently when they stumbled across dozens of football-sized balls of ice lying on the shore.
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 something he’d never seen before.
“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 Swedish meteorological agency SMHI.
“The balls varied in size but the biggest ones were quite large, some larger than a football.”
According to SMHI, the 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.
"It's hard to say just how common ice balls are, since we are reliant on witness reports," SMHI spokeswoman Alexandra Ohlsson told The Local.