A Maine-Sized Hole Has Opened up in Antarctica's Ice Blanket

Posted October 15, 2017

Therefore, the hole opened past year that's too after the four decades and after that, it made an appearance last month with the even more larger size.

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. Then, it disappeared for 40 years only to reappear last year.

"This is hundreds of kilometers from the ice edge".

"We don't really understand the long-term impacts this polynya will have", Moore told the magazine.

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The specialist points out that this new formation is quite atypical because it is located deep in the ice pack, which is not a usual occurrence.

That's part of what makes it so scientifically fascinating, he said. It would not be noticeable without satellite imagery.

Open-ocean polynas, like the one found in the Weddell Sea last month, are caused by the rising of warmer and saltier water from below.

He said the Weddell Sea polynya would be like an "oasis in the desert" for marine mammals such as orcas and seals, so it's probably teeming with life.

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The Weddell Sea polynya could force more changes in ice as the melting ice causes a localised temperature contrast between the ocean and atmosphere - which drives a convection current.

Scientists have no idea why it's open now after being closed for four decades - or why it's bigger and longer-lasting than ever before.

Meanwhile, as stated in the Earther, another team from the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany assumes that the reoccurrence of the hole confirms their climate variability models, which also predicts that polynya may appear again.

"But there is something which has happened down there, which has allowed this opening to occur two years in a row". However, we've got a good chance of understanding what's going on this time.

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And they plan to study the region for years to come. While it wasn't seen for decades after 1976, it reappeared in August previous year.