Published: Sat, October 14, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Hole in Antarctic Sea Ice Confounds Scientists

Hole in Antarctic Sea Ice Confounds Scientists

This gaping polynya, which measures an area equivalent to the Netherlands, opened right in the middle of a sea which would have otherwise been completely covered in thick ice.

Despite the fact that the exact reasons for the appearance of polynyas are still unknown, the mechanism of its formation is approximately comprehensible, the N + 1 site specifies.

Last month, one of these floats surfaced inside the Weddell Sea polynya, providing unique data on its existence, researchers said. According to satellite imagery, it appeared in the same place as it did forty years ago.

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

A hole in Antarctica's ice about the size of ME has opened up and scientists aren't sure why it happened.

Researchers have observed a huge gap in the layer of ice that covers Antarctica's Weddell Sea during the winter.

The global warming phenomenon is also in play but scientists aren't sure what this polynya will mean for Antarctica's oceans and climate, and whether climate change effects it at all.

Aerial view of the polynya in the Southern Ocean.

The harsh winter in Antarctica makes it hard to find holes like this one, so it can be difficult to study them.

The Southern Ocean has a fairly layered structure, and above the layer of warmer and salt water is a layer of cold and relatively fresh water.

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

"For us this ice-free area is an important new data point which we can use to validate our climate models", said Dr. Torge Martin, meteorologist and climate modeler at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel.

With these new ocean measurements, along with space-based observations and climate models, comes the possibility that these polynyas' secrets and their impacts on the climate may finally be revealed, they said. They tend to form when a current of warm ocean water from underneath the ice melts a small amount, forming a region of no water. "The better we understand these natural processes, the better we can identify the anthropogenic impact on the climate system".

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