Anyway, these glacier moss balls are still a bit of an enigma. Scientists have been tracking their movement and lifespans more closely in the last couple of decades to get a better idea of how they fit into the ecosystem at large. And while there isn’t yet a satisfying answer, they have been able to eliminate a few explanations.
In 2006, while hiking around the Root Glacier in Alaska to set up scientific instruments, researcher Tim Bartholomaus encountered something unexpected.
“What the heck is this!” Bartholomaus recalls thinking. He’s a glaciologist at the University of Idaho.
Scattered across the glacier were balls of moss. “They’re not attached to anything and they’re just resting there on ice,” he says. “They’re bright green in a world of white.”
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