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Little Green Moss Balls on the Alaskan Glacier

By Lauren Yue


There are some oval balls of moss on Alaska glacier, also known as “glacier mice.”

                  These oval balls of moss are rolling down the hill in the summers in a herd. They even turn directions together. But all of these moss balls have distances. Even if they are in a herd, they will not squish each other. They don’t pile up like windblown tumbleweeds.

These moss balls are different. According to the researchers, they didn’t roll with the wind. They didn’t follow the direction of snow melt from the sun, nor did they go with the ice flow. They didn’t even move in the downhill direction, but instead went up in the uphill direction. 

The sun makes moss balls tumble and move during summer time. The heat of the sun can  melt down the ice about 3 inches per day. Every moss ball is like a mini umbrella, shading the ice beneath it like crumpling off the ice as they roll. As the glacier melts around the ball, the ball ends up perched atop of ice. Within about a day or two days, the pedestals from atop the ice  get to be as high as 2 to 3 inches tall. At that point, the moss ball tips off to the side. To survive in this hot weather, the moss balls roll to survive.             

                   These moss balls are very unusual, but that is their life cycle.


Sources:

https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/alaska-glacier-little-green-moss-balls-roll-in-herds

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