South Pole Snow Puff Balls Are Yukimarimos

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Other people have noticed the snow puff balls, mentioned in a post on March 15, too. Locally some people have called them cotton balls, weird snow and the starting alien invasion. South Pole meteorologist Lance dug up an article about the phenomenon in Nature.

Japanese researcher T. Kameda studied the snow balls at Dome Fuji station and published an article about them in the “Journal of Glaciology” in 1999, in which he coins the term “yukimarimo”.

South Pole Snow Puff Ball

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Update: Mystery solved!

Today I noticed a large number of little snow puff balls outside. First I couldn’t figure out where they came from. After a while I did notice many of them just being blown across the ground like tumbleweed. It seems, that in calm conditions a light snow fuzz builds up on the surface. If this is followed by just the right amount of wind (currently around 10 knots) it just takes a small seed to start a puff ball, which will grow as it rolls across the Antarctic plateau.

The puff balls will gather in small depressions.
A small gathering of snow puff balls