- From: The Daily Telegraph
- Mysterious shapes appear on radar
- Bureau of Meteorology says it's interference
- Conspiracy theorists buzzing
THEY are the digital-age equivalent of crop circles - mysterious patterns appearing on the Bureau of Meteorology's national radar system without any explanation.
And the random images described as red stars, rings of fire and white doughnuts are sending online conspiracy websites into meltdown.
The anomalies first began on January 15 when an "iced doughnut" appeared over Kalgoorlie in WA.
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Satellite imagery showed there was no cloud over the area at the time to explain the unusual phenomenon but farmers' online comments claimed it was "unusually hot" all day.
It was followed by a bizarre red star over Broome on January 22 and a sinister spiral burst over Melbourne described by amateur radar buffs as the Ring Of Fire Fault.
The Bureau, which did not respond to repeated requests for comment, has acknowledged the anomalies on its popular website.
It has since posted a disclaimer above the national loop feed putting the images down to "occasional interference to the radar data".
"The Bureau is currently investigating ways to reduce these interferences," the disclaimer said.
Conspiracy websites, however, have lit up with dozens of breathless theories behind the strange anomalies from alien involvement, secret military testing to government weather modification.
One theory gaining traction online is the belief the US military has expanded its High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program.
Based at a remote research station in Alaska, the HAARP project involves shooting extremely high frequency radar bursts into the upper reaches of the atmosphere to see what happens after particles of the ionosphere are temporarily excited.
Ostensibly the research is to study the effects of solar flares on radio communications and improve missile detection and navigation systems.
But, unlike the failed cloud seeding experiments of yesteryear, conspiracy theorists claim HAARP is engaged in a sophisticated form of weather modification and that testing is also being done from a secret facility near Exmouth in Western Australia.
UK electrical engineer and crop circle expert Colin Andrews said Australians deserve an explanation.
"Until [the Bureau of Meteorology] make a formal and complete response to all the various strange patterns, one can only speculate about what is taking place," he said.
Mr Andrews urged people concerned by the bizarre radar symbols and strange weather patterns to contact the Bureau of Meteorology or a government representative.
Another theory suggests the anomalies appear before major weather events such as cyclones Olga and Paul and the violent storms which hit Victoria in recent weeks.
Others argue objects in the atmosphere emitting powerful radiation could be behind the mystery.