A Giant Hole Just Appeared in Antarctica


The ones that formed 40 years ago were about five times bigger, said Torge Martin, a meteorologist and climate modeler at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany.

A giant hole as large as the state of ME has opened up in Antarctica's Weddell Sea for the second year in a row, confusing scientists due to its unusual characteristics.

"It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice". Intriguingly, this polynya is located extremely far from the sea ice coastline, where these kinds of openings usually appear. "In some cases, the high-density surface water mixes with other masses and sinks all the way to the ocean bottom", the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) explained. Moore said that this giant hole has been open for four months so far and he guessed that it would stay open for rest of the winter. However, it disappeared for several decades before showing back up, throwing a huge kink in many scientific explanations for its existence. The phenomenon was previously observed in the same location in the 1970s when satellite imaging was barely making its first baby steps.

A vast hole has re-opened in Antarctica, and it could have something to teach us about climate change.

Sometimes, the layer of warm water can then melt the ice. He added that this polynya is deep in the ice pack and it is a couple of hundreds of kilometers away from the coast. Is climate change responsible for the formation of this massive hole? The cold surface layer is shown in blue, with warm water indicataed in red. Moore says it would be "premature" to connect it to climate change, though his team is analyzing data to better understand what could have caused this.

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The latest technology allows them to study the polynya even if their access to the site itself in the Southern Ocean is insufficient. Now polynya opened again on 9 September.

"Global warming is not a linear process and happens on top of internal variability inherent to the climate system".

'The better we understand these natural processes, the better we can identify the anthropogenic impact on the climate system'.

As scientists continue to hone their climate models and ideal their predictions, they're getting closer to being able to accurately simulate the exact process at work, but a full explanation may still be years away.