Massive Hole Has Opened Up in Antarctica

Massive Hole Has Opened Up in Antarctica

Actually, this type of phenomena can be termed as polynya- an area of open water completely enclosed by sea ice. Intriguingly, this polynya is located extremely far from the sea ice coastline, where these kinds of openings usually appear. A professor at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus, he warned it was too soon to attribute the mysterious hole to global warming.

However, this is not the first time that this particular hole has emerged in Antarctica.

According to scientists, finding the hole was only with the help of satellite images. The hole had again reappeared during the austral winters of 1975 and 1976.

A "polynya" is a large ice-free area that develops in an otherwise frozen sea; the features are commonly seen in both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice.

Now it's back and this year it appears bigger than last year.

It's larger than The Netherlands, and almost the size of Lake Superior.

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. Experts believe that the Weddell polynya might a part of some cyclical process but they lack clear details. Did the Weddell polynya occur before 1970, and we are looking at a periodic process that shows itself about every 40 years?

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The gap, measuring about 80,000kmat the largest, was detected far from the edge of the ice last month (early September) when scientists were monitoring the area with satellite technology. "Denser, colder water sinks to the bottom of the ocean, while warmer water comes to the surface, which can keep the polynia open once it starts".

The hole was discovered by researchers about a month ago.

Simulated temperature development in the area of the polynya is illustrated above.

Polyna is very elusive and hard to study because of the harsh winter in Antarctica.

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"The Southern Ocean is strongly stratified". 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 past year.

That robot has already begun sending the data, which is being processed by the scientists.

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