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A Giant Hole Just Appeared in Antarctica


Known as polynyas or semipermanent area of open water in sea ice, this Weddell polynya is quite mysterious in terms of its origin.

A mysterious hole the size of ME has opened up in Antarctica, stumping scientists who have no clue how it formed.

The hole, which was detected about a month ago, is roughly 30,000 square miles or the size of the state of Maine.

Back in 1970s, a polynia was seen at the same location in Antarctica's Weddell Sea but since observation tools that the scientists had were not as good at that time as they are now, that hole could not be analyzed.

Kent Moore, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto, said: "In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we've had this area of open water".

Read the full story at USA Today. Ocean convection occurs in the polynya by bringing warmer water to the surface, which then melts the sea ice and prevents new ice from forming.


A vast hole has re-opened in Antarctica, and it could have something to teach us about climate change.

"At that time, the scientific community had just launched the first satellites that provided images of the sea-ice cover from space", said Torge Martin, a meteorologist and climate modeler, as quoted by Phys.org.
Some American scientists think that this polynya will never re-appear, as melting ice and more precipitation in the air separates the surface ice sheet from deeper layers of water. As the surface water comes into contact with the Antarctic atmosphere, it cools and sinks, then heats up again and rises back toward the surface. He said:"This is hundreds of kilometers from the ice edge".

Lead Image: Winter sea ice blankets the Weddell Sea around Antarctica with massive extra-tropical cyclones hovering over the Southern Ocean in this satellite image from September 25, 2017.

"Two of these events happening two years in a row really isn't a long enough kind of trend for us to say it's the result of global warming", Moore told CBC.

Though Moore thinks marine animals could be using this hole to breathe, it is still unclear why it reopened after so many years, what long-term effect it could have on Antarctica's oceans and climate, or if it was triggered by climate change or any other process.

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