Sunday, October 29, 2006

holy cow, weird bumps

Above: this cow is on some very weird bumps spotted in the New Forest.

Above: No one knows what these weird bumps are, or how they got there.

Above: Is this a new form of 'crop bump circle' formation?

1 comment:

Keith said...

The 'weird bumps' look suspiciously like pingoes. Google it for a full explanation as I don't have my old course notes to hand but they're normally associated with areas with underlying permafrost, where they're becoming increasingly common due to rising temperatures leading to freezing and thawing of permafrost that would normally be frozen all year (hence the term). Obviously, as the photos were taken in the UK, they can't be due to this. However, I suspect the likely explanation, especially given the recent weather (cold nights and frosty mornings that warm up rapidly) is that the field was waterlogged and a layer of sub-surface ice formed at night that started to melt in the morning sun. In areas where pingoes are common this occurs in surprisingly regular patterns (think how fractures propagate in solids with crystalline lattice structures, or how regular crystals are grown in the lab and in nature) giving rise to exactly the same sorts of formations seen in the photos (although in permafrost areas they tend to be larger and taller). In this case though I would not infer that they are a direct indicator of climate change, but more a phenomenon that has occured at this lattitude due to a mix of environmental conditions (in the soil and in the air, and probably other local environmental factors). However, it would be very interesting to know how many other examples have been found in the UK , backed by as much info as possible on local conditions and geographies. Definitely not something to get worried or excited about unless they start occuring in significant numbers though.