BARCELONA, Spain — A Spanish-American scientific team will be scanning the United States this winter for what might be one of the weirdest byproducts of global warming: great balls of ice that fall from the sky.

The baffling phenomenon was first detected in Spain three years ago and has since been reported in a number of other countries, including the United States. So scientists now plan to monitor in a systematic way what they call “megacryometeors” — or great balls of ice that fall from the sky.

“I’m not worried that a block of ice may fall on your head,” said Dr. Jesus Martinez-Frias of the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid. “I’m worried that great blocks of ice are forming where they shouldn’t exist.”

Ice balls, which generally weigh 25 to 35 pounds but can be much bigger, have punched holes in the roofs of houses, smashed through car windshields, and whizzed right past people’s heads.

Incidents like those may be just the beginning, according to Dr. David Travis, who chairs the department of geography and geology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“If megacryometeor formation is linked to global warming, as we suspect, then it is fair to assume that these events may increase in the future,” Travis said.

Full piece, from 2003, here. A microwave-oven-sized ice ball recently fell outside an apartment complex in Douglasdale, South Africa, leaving a small crater in the sidewalk. According to the Saturday Star,

[S]ecurity guards who witnessed the icy object plummet to its pulpy end believe that it might have been a blessing from above. “It came from God… because the (security guard) strike is over,” one of the men told the Saturday Star. One of his colleagues, 26-year-old Soweto resident Sizwe Sofika, vehemently rejected suggestions that the ice block could have been frozen human waste ejected from a passing aircraft.

“There is no poo here,” Sofika said. “There is no smell.”

Well, that’s a relief. Falling icy poo would be really scary.

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