Thousands of bizarre* “ice eggs” have covered a beach in Finland during a rare weather event.
The egg-shaped balls of ice have been pictured covering the entire Scandinavian beach on Hailuoto Island in the Gulf of Bothnia.
The extraordinary sight was captured by amateur* photographer Risto Mattila.
Experts say it is caused by a rare process in which small pieces of ice are rolled over by wind and water.
Mr Mattila, from nearby Oulu, told the BBC he had never witnessed anything like it.
“I was with my wife at Marjaniemi beach. The weather was sunny, about — 1C and it was quite a windy day,” Mr Mattila said.
“There we found this amazing phenomenon*. There was snow and ice eggs along the beach near the waterline.”
He said the balls of ice stretched over a 30m area with some as big as footballs.
“That was an amazing view. I have never seen anything like this during 25 years living in the vicinity*,” he said.
Similar sights have been reported before including in Russia and on Lake Michigan near Chicago.
In 2016, residents of Nyda in Siberia found giant balls of ice and snow covering an 18km stretch of coastline. They ranged from the size of a tennis ball to almost 1m across.
Iceberg the size of Sydney breaks away in Antarctica
HOW DO ICE EGGS FORM?
- Ice eggs are rare and happen only around once a year in the correct conditions. The air temperature has to be just below zero while the water temperature must also be near freezing point.
- A shallow* and slightly sloping* sandy beach with calm waves and possibly a light swell* is the perfect setting for the ice eggs to form.
- The ice begins to collect and form a core* as the swell moves it along the beach, forward and back.
- A small ball surface gets wet, freezes and becomes bigger and bigger as it rolls back and forth.
* This story first appeared in The Sun and has been published here with permission.
- bizarre: unusual
- amateur: not a professional
- phenomenon: a remarkable thing
- vicinity: area
- shallow: not deep
- sloping: running down at an angle
- swell: wave
- core: centre
- Which island were the ice eggs found on?
- What were the weather conditions like on the beach?
- How big were some of the ice eggs?
- Name two other places ice eggs have been found
- How often do ice eggs occur in the correct conditions?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Act it out
For this activity, you should work in a group of three. Create a short role-play (act it out) that features two friends discovering ice eggs on a beach. In your play, these two friends do not know what the ice eggs are or how they got there. They should share ideas with each other about what they think it might be. (The ideas can be as creative or funny as you like!) Then, a third friend who has heard about the phenomenon joins the group and explains the ice eggs.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science; Drama; Personal and Social Capability
Draw a diagram to visually represent how ice eggs are formed. Include as much detail as you can, based on the facts in the news article. Present your diagram to a classmate, explaining how the process works. Answer any question they may ask you.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists have used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?
HAVE YOUR SAY: What is the most unusual weather event you have ever seen? A hailstorm, thunderstorm, tornado or something else?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.