An enormous mysterious hole was spotted in a massive fleet of Antarctic ice in the Weddell Sea. It is as big as the state of Maine or the Lake Superior and about 80,000 square kilometers.
The mysterious hole was found by the researchers from the University of Toronto and the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) last month. There was this similar hole that was opened in the same place last year. Therefore, the researchers investigate the area using a satellite technology, according to National Geographic.
Kent Moore, an atmospheric physicist and a professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga, described the gigantic hole as quite remarkable. He further said that it looks like you just punched a hole in the ice.
The researchers said that this giant hole is referred to as “polynya,” which is an area of open water or unfrozen sea within the ice pack. This is usually found in the coastal regions of Antarctica.
Moore found it strange, however, that this current hole is “deep in the ice pack.” He thought it must have been developed in some processes that are not understood.
According to Extreme Tech, a smaller polynya was also discovered in the same place in the 1970s. It vanished for 40 years and became visible again last year. It also appeared last September, which was the second consecutive year for the Weddell Sea polynya.
Moore also thought that sea creatures might be using this hole to breathe. The scientists also thought that polynya will have a wider impact on the oceans.
Moore said that once the sea ice melts back, there is this enormous temperature contrast between the ocean and the atmosphere. He further explained that this could start driving convection, in which denser and colder water sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Meanwhile, warmer water comes to the surface that could keep the polynya open once it starts.
Scientists are uncertain of what this polynya will do for Antarctica’s oceans and climate or if it is linked to climate change. Moore said that they do not really understand the long-term impacts this gigantic hole will have. He and the other scientists are still trying to figure out what is going on with this polynya.
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