The Newfoundland Bubble

A study into the phenomena of the Newfoundland Bubble: its formation,dissolution & management of its effects.

The Phenomenon of the Newfoundland Bubble is so regularly experienced by Newfoundlanders that proof of its existence may seem a little redundant. However this is a scientific investigation and as such we must first ascertain the authenticity of my assertion that a bubble forms over the Island during the winter months. The Bubble makes coming and going difficult to the point that it may engender feelings of entrapment.

This stage of the project will focus on the St. John’s region as the  geographical expanse of Newfoundland and the logistical difficulties and costs associated make a greater study untenable at this juncture. Furthermore the bubble is strongest in areas of higher population density, making St. John’s the perfect location for this initial study.

For those of you who have not yet spent a winter in Newfoundland you may be a little confused at this stage. Newfoundlanders may also be unfamiliar with this term as superstition denotes that the bubble is rarely mentioned directly and if done so is referred to as ‘the dome’ or the ‘coop’ and sometime simply as ‘winter’ or ‘winter has set in’ with an alternative tone of emphasis on ‘winter’ separating it from the regular seasonal term.

Let me clarify the Bubble for you:

The Bubble is rarely visible. It is a phenomena predominantly experienced emotionally and physically.
Inclement weather, a lack of sunlight, geographical isolation and a collective belief that we are trapped
instigates, strengthens and reinforces the formation of the bubble.

The term ‘bubble’ is the most apt description of this phenomena because like it’s smaller soap based
namesake we are all familiar with, the Newfoundland bubble has a similar viscous surface. It does contain a micro climate within and its sides form a penetrable barrier. With force things may leave and enter. Through intermolecular force and surface tension, the bubbles sides reform around these openings to maintain a
continuous surface. The Newfoundland bubble is clear and iridescent. This iridescence allows it to be seen in very specific and rare light conditions.

The Formation of the Bubble:

The winter snow while at first fun and pretty and by some welcomed , soon becomes inconvenient at best. Unpredictable snow storms create a sense of constant concern that you may be trapped far from home, you may need to drive in dangerous conditions or walk in low visibility on unplowed paths to return.  Individuals start to travel shorter distances. The snow piles entomb your house and a pervasive sense of entrapment

descends. This is further exacerbated by the Fog.


The Micro-climate (The Bubble) of the Avalon traps dense fog ‘The waters off the Avalon Peninsula and over the Grand Banks are among the foggiest in the world.’ Edwin Neeleman This dense fog is often accompanied by strong winds. Normally, winds can be expected to disperse fog, but here the fog is frequently so dense and widespread that the winds have little clearing effect. The Fog simply circulates around the bubble. The Fog limits your view to your immediate surroundings, dulling sound and blurring even obscuring vision, you begin to question the existence of the world outside of this view.

Those that do have the gumption to leave often find their travels restricted by the high cost of flying to and from this remote island. If one does have a ticket to leave, the fog frequently grounds planes.

The fog further reduces light penetration in months when days are short, St. John’s on average
only receives 2hrs of daylight a day in December. Seasonal Affective Disorder sets in, a lack of
sunshine leads to a negative outlook and vitamin D deficiency impacts our health and energy levels.

The Newfoundland and Labrador population may be at increased risk for vitamin D
Insufficiency because of factors such as northern latitude and lifestyle issues. Further
research on the vitamin D status of this population is important, considering the potential advers health-related outcomes.’
Newhook LA

KMBT_C224-20160115143251Ultimately even if we wanted to leave our energy levels and ‘can do’ attitude is so low that the belief that we are trapped and escape is pointless sets in. This collective belief further strengthens the bubble.

The bubble starts to form in December. It is present from January to April. However some years the bubble formation is so strong that its effects remain until the summer, in 2015 for example the bubble was present well into July.

‘More than 40 flights couldn’t get into St. John’s this weekend due to poor weather,
causing frustration for travellers trying to fly in and out’
July 2015 CBC News

How Big Is the Bubble?
The ultimate bubble size varies annually depending on weather and population morale.

From January 1 to March 31st through GPS tracking MIRIAD monitored the movements of 4 subjects residing in the Downtown of St. John’s. The resulting GPS maps may be viewed adjacent

A.       Compiled data of Subject 1 GPS tracking January 1 2015– March 31 2015
B.         Compiled data of Subject 2 GPS tracking January 1 2015– March 31 2015
C.         Compiled data of Subject 3 GPS tracking January 1 2015– March 31 2015
D.            Compiled    data    of     Subject     4    GPS    tracking     January    1    2015–     March   31     2015

From this tracking we were able to determine that:

Each individual has their own bubble, this is the circle in which they move during the winter months. The centre of their bubble is their residence.  You can see this applied ‘Diagram of subject 2s Bubble’

Their movement during this time can be broken down into 3 concentric circles.

bubble diaghram

Regular movement in one direction allows for equal and opposite movement in the other direction.

For example, if subject 1 travels 2.3 km due east to work daily, they can move 2.3km in any direction from the centre of their bubble daily.

The bubble does not sit on the edge of your furthest distance travelled weekly. There is always a ‘buffer’
radius. A formula can be applied to the distances in these circles to determine  an individuals bubble and its
proximity to their residence. You can apply this formula to your own  travel to determine your bubble

  1. a) Weekly maximum distance travelled
  2. b) Daily maximum distance travelled
  3. C) Pi – 3.14

 a/b x c = bubble radius

An individuals Bubble however cannot impact you directly.  It is the collective impact of individuals bubbles that determine the city’s bubble size:

bubble formation low colour

From Surveying over 500 participants we have been able to determine that this was the core bubble in 2015

Evidence of the bubbles existence.

Having determined the size and location of the bubble MIRIAD researchers journeyed on a field trip to its edge to collect evidence of it’s existence.

After days of painstaking filming the bubble was witnessed and captured on film 3 times.

Film Documentation of the Bubble:

1) Time-lapse footage illustrating microclimate within the bubble

2) Sunset illuminating bubble

3) Murmuration formations demonstrate edge of bubble

When documenting the murmuration we witnessed a bird that deviated from the flock path, it flew into the bubbles edge and  fell to the ground.

Retrieval of this specimen provided excellent evidence of the bubbles existence and impact.

We determined that the cause of death was  exsanguination by bubble (the bubble replaced the blood in the bird) Please see ‘ Bubble exsanguinated bird diagram’

KMBT_C224-20160118104811We were able to preserve this evidence. Please see ‘Bubble exsanguinated bird specimen ‘

Furthermore for the first time ever we were able to preserve actual bubble matter, please see ‘Bubble matter magnified x1000’


As you can see it is formed of a series of smaller bubbles. Further supporting MIRIADS theory that the  City’s uber bubble is formed by the collective bubbles of individuals.

We were shocked that the bubble could cause death to a bird.  There are undocumented accounts of dead butterflies piling at bubbles edges on those rare occasions that the bubble extends into early summer, these however have not been verified.

We have found no evidence that the bubble causes any physical harm to humans. Our own researchers crossed the bubble parameter regularly and reported only a psychological impact akin to a feeling of dread , a sudden need to return home or the desire to hibernate. One researcher did in fact remain cocooned in their bed for 5 days after one encounter. As an aside this may be why quilt making is so popular in Newfoundland.

How to negate the negative effects of the bubble

From our survey sample of 500 residents we can determine that 85% are impacted by the Bubble. However 5% are immune to the bubble: ‘I go where I want, the  weather don’t bother me’

These people typically owned a truck and a skidoo.

An additional 10% of those surveyed were aware of the bubble but were not negatively impacted by it. These can be broken down into 3 categorise:

1)Those that use positivity to break through the barrier:

‘I fly every year to Florida. I have never had an issue, I  visualise myself on a beach sipping a cocktail and know that I will get there.’

‘I only leave St. John’s in the winter to go skiing. I haven’t had a problem leaving’

2)Those that  embrace the restrictions and spend most of winter hibernating:

‘Sure why would you want to go anywhere anyway’

‘I have never left Newfoundland so this Bubble thing doesn’t bother me’

‘it gives me time to catch up on my house renos and crafts.’

‘I love being forced to do nothing’

‘I do all my reading in winter. So long as my house is warm I am happy.’

‘I don’t have a passport’

3)Those that  are aware of the bubble and embrace the weather:

I go snow shoeing, cross country skiing and skating. The trick to  winter here is to love the snow and get outside as much as possible.’

‘me and the kids love the winter, we build snow men and go sledging.’

The dogs love the snow, I am not so keen, but  I do appreciate going for  a walk