Massive mysterious hole, 80000 sq km in size, spotted in Antarctica

Laura Christensen
October 14, 2017

The latest hole is way bigger than the last discovered and was spotted by scientists from the University of Toronto and the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) group.

Antarctica is still in the clutches of winter, and the Weddell Sea is usually still covered in sea ice.

The latest technology allows them to study the polynya even if their access to the site itself in the Southern Ocean is insufficient. 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. A similar trend was observed by the scientists of NASA, consecutively for three years starting 1974. Over the next two years, in 1975 and 1976, it showed up again.

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of a polynya off the coast of Antarctica, near Ross Island and McMurdo Station on November 16, 2011. While far smaller than it was in the '70s, it was still interesting since it hadn't been around for over four decades.

Blaming climate change for this giant hole is one alternative that the scientists have but according to Moore, that would be a premature thing.

The hole is covering an area of around 30,000 square miles. "Its recurrence supports our hypothesis... that the Weddell Polynya was not a one-time event but possibly occurred regularly in the past".

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"The polynya is like a big window", Martin told Earther.

"Once the sea ice melts back, you have this huge temperature contrast between the ocean and the atmosphere".

"If we didn't have a satellite, we wouldn't know it was there", Moore told Motherboard, adding it looks like someone "punched a hole" through the ice. "We don't have enough observations of the Southern Ocean yet".

The researcher Kent Moore told to Motherboard that this is now the second year it is opened after 40 years, they are still trying to figuring out what's going on.

According to researchers from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, who first discovered the polymya, it is now in the middle of the winter season in Antarctica and the Weddell Sea is usually covered by a thick layer of sea ice. We've got a source of deep water that's missing, somewhere.

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