Giant snowballs have appeared on the Arctic coast of Siberia. Special environmental conditions created this natural phenomenon. Residents of the village Nyda, north of the Arctic Circle, have been enjoying the unusual sight.

Natural snowballs of varying sizes have covered part of the Gulf of Ob at the end of October. Picture: The Siberian Times, Sergey Bychenkov
Natural snowballs of varying sizes have covered part of the Gulf of Ob at the end of October. Picture: The Siberian Times, Sergey Bychenkov

The rows and rows of snowballs have delighted the local people of Siberia, particularly in the village of Nyda above the Arctic Circle, where the snowballs were first discovered at the end of October. Each ball is perfectly round and stacked neatly along the 18-kilometer coastline. The balls were described as 'white cannonballs' by one local newspaper. They were discovered on a beach in the Gulf of Ob and range in sizes from tennis ball to basketball, but some are up to a meter in diameter.

Residents of Nyda, a small village on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, enjoyed posing with the snow balls that are covering the coast over a stretch of 18 km. Picture: Ekaterina Chernykh
Residents of Nyda, a small village on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, enjoyed posing with the snow balls that are covering the coast over a stretch of 18 km. Picture: Ekaterina Chernykh

Resident Ekaterina Chernyk said: “We have them all in one place. It's as if someone spilled them.” “We were all very surprised. Many people believed it only when they saw it with their own eyes.” Village official Valery Akulov said: “Even old-timers say they are seeing this phenomenon for the first time.”

They may look man-made but the snowballs have been formed by an entirely natural and extremely rare natural process. The Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute spokesman Sergey Lisenkov said the snowballs formed in the waves under certain climatic conditions. He explained: "A combination of wind action, the outlines of coastline, and the temperature, may lead to the formation of such balls. When the water in the gulf rose, it came into contact with the frost. The beach began to be covered with ice. Then the water began to slowly retreat, and the ice remained.”  Its pieces were rolling over in the wet sand, and turned into these balls”. The pounding of the waves from a storm shape the ice into spheres.

While not seen in Siberia before, a similar phenomenon can be observed in winter, on the shores of Lake Michigan in the United States, as well as on Stroomi beach in northern Tallinn, Estonia.

Ice balls on Stroomi beach, Estonia, Gulf of Finland. Photo: Aleksandr Abrosimov/Wikimedia
Ice balls on Stroomi beach, Estonia, Gulf of Finland. Photo: Aleksandr Abrosimov/Wikimedia

Source: The Siberian Times and Will Stewart, Mirror