The mystery offalling blocksof ice continues. As always, reporters of the most recentevent have no idea that this is a worldwide, recurringphenomenon, and that it is most likely caused by atmosphericchanges related to global warming.

Mile Frazier of the Illinois Herald-Review reports that agiant ice block fell from the sky into the back yard of someresidents of Decatur, Illinois. He writes that we know theseice blocks, called megacryometeors, are NOT a case ofairplanes disgorging their frozen contents from toilets, buthe says we don?t know what DOES cause them.

However, that’s not true. Atmospheric researchers believethat the phenomenon takes place because of the increasingdifference, caused by global warming of the troposphere?orlower atmosphere?and the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere.The ultra-cold stratosphere causes large ice blocks to formout of jet contrails or ice that forms on airplane wings,and sometimes from water in rain clouds. These fall to theEarth and can even kill people, if they?re big enough andmoving fast enough.

Megacycrometers have been a worldwide phenomenon for atleast five years. Fortunately, these gigantic blocks ofice?actually huge hailstones?are rare, and Spanish scientistJesus Martinez-Frias, who has studied the blocks, believesthat about one-fifth of them are reported. Whether thephenomenon is increasing or decreasing is unknown, becauseignorance and the lack of any central information-gatheringfacility means that adequate records are not being kept.

Dr. Martinez-Frias proved in 2002 that the blocks wereoccurring naturally. He analyzed the composition of one ofthem and found that it was typical of hail that fell in theIberian region?just a hundred times the size of a normalhailstone. Analysis of another of the blocks in the U.S.determined that it did not contain any sewage or chemicalsthat would be associated with aircraft toilets or de-icingsystems.

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