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Attack of the cryoconites

Attack of the cryoconites

Greenland's ice sheet is pockmarked with cryoconites, or holes filled with melted water. They form when the Sun melts darker dust and silt on the ice sheet, creating round or irregular patterns.  Like snow flakes, each cryoconite is different; some freeze bubbles inside and others are fringed by crystals. Scientists working on the ice sheet this summer sometimes found them to be wet irritations; they were the perfect size for stepping in and soaking feet. 

(Photo by Mark D. Behn, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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