Mysterious 'Fairy Circles' Discovered In Australia's Outback

by Edgar Walsh Marcha 20, 2016, 14:38
Mysterious 'Fairy Circles' Discovered In Australia's Outback

The Namib Desert had seemed to be the only place in the world where the landscape was dotted with mysterious but oddly handsome barren circles of earth, until similar fairy circles were discovered by scientists in the remote outback region of Australia two years ago. Australian fairy circles typically measure 12 to 22 feet (7 to 9 meters).

Since then they have become convinced that they are actually genuine fairy circles with the same patterns as those 10 000 kilometers away in Namibia. However, with Bell's aerial photos of the Aussie desert fairy circles, Getzin was quick to begin contemplating the idea that the grasses that grew around the edges of the circles might be self-organizing, a theory proffered in a 2013 paper by South African biologist Michael Cramer. Now, at one more place more than 6,200 miles away, near Newman, Australia, researchers have found similar fairy circles. They also predict that such patterns will arise in other parts of the globe with semi-arid conditions. Pattern formation theory says that if the circles come from a system governed by plant growth and water transportation, then they should be seen across all arid ecosystems - not just in Africa. However, there are more plausible theories proposed by researchers after examining the fairy circles from both locations. Such oddities are enchanting curiosities, so perhaps "fairy circles" can be considered somewhat appropriate...

While analyzing the grass distribution from a helicopter, Getzin started to suspect that the grass' pattern is similar to that of underground water deposits.

So, no, conspiracists, fairy circles are not proof of alien-landings whatsoever.

Namibia fairy circles Dr Stephan Getzin  UFZ
Namibia fairy circles Dr Stephan Getzin UFZ

"The remarkable match between the patterns of Australian and Namibian fairy circles and model results indicate that both patterns emerge from a non-uniform stationary instability, supporting a central universality principle of pattern-formation theory", the study's authors noted.

For the team this is a clear indication that the barren patches are not produced by animal activities but the way in which the plants organize themselves. Especially stripe and labyrinth patterns form preferentially on hard soil layers with overland-water flow, as is commonly observed with lined up trees along mountain slopes. Extra vegetation in a tight area keeps the soil surface cooler and the soil looser. This allows other plants to colonize the area and the conditions again improve slightly - it's a small-scale, self-perpetuating process which results in the grass carpet with gap pattern we see covering large areas. This causes reservoirs to form under the barren areas, supplying the grass with moisture. Analysis of the Australia fairy circles shows there was a big difference between the soil of the circles and the surrounding vegetation. According to him, people have known about the existence of the Australian circles for years, but no skilled person like Getzin has ever gone as far as mapping it out on the landscape scale. Others believe that these patches represent the footsteps of God.

 

"I would say they are still a mystery because the brand new discovery needs to be further investigated".


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