Researchers Wonder Why a Giant Hole Keeps Opening Up in Antarctica

A Giant Mysterious Hole Has Emerged In Antarctica And Scientists Still Don't Know The Reason

A Giant Mysterious Hole Has Emerged In Antarctica And Scientists Still Don't Know The Reason

While Moore warns that it's too soon to blame global warming, other scientists note the differences between climate change caused by human activities and natural changes to the climate system.

Describing the hole to Motherboard, Moore said, "It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice". As per the report, the largest estimates of the hole's current size put it around 80,000 square kilometers.

'This is now the second year in a row it's opened after 40 years of not being there, ' Moore explained.

As the researchers note, often area of open sea surrounded by ice, known as polynyas, formed relatively close to the border of the ice and the sea. They appeared in Antarctica in the 1970s, but disappeared for decades before reopening last year for a brief period and again this year. Did the Weddell polynya occur before 1970, and we are looking at a periodic process that shows itself about every 40 years? The team, comprised of scientists from the University of Toronto and the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) project, was monitoring the area with satellite technology after a similar hole opened a year ago. The Weddell Sea polynya is like "an oasis" for Antarctic sea mammals, says scientist Kent Moore.

'We're still trying to figure out what's going on'.

As these ice gaps typically form in coastal regions, however, the appearance of a polynya "deep in the ice pack" is an unusual occurrence.

Researchers from the Princeton-based Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) group are conducting a study of the polynya that seeks to answer numerous questions. "This is like opening a pressure relief valve-the ocean then releases a surplus of heat to the atmosphere for several consecutive winters until the heat reservoir is exhausted", Latif said.

"The fact that now a large, ice-free area can be observed in the Weddell Sea confirms our theory and gives us another data point for further model studies", said Dr. Torge Martin, meteorologist and climate modeler at GEOMAR. In certain conditions, however, the warm water can rise to the surface, melting the ice.

One of the biggest reason as to why this polynya remains so mysterious is that it's quite hard to explore such areas.

A larger version of the hole was observed in satellite observations in the same area of Antarctica in 1974, and it reopened past year for a few weeks.

"We don't really understand the long-term impacts this polynya will have", he says.

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