Massive Hole Has Opened Up In Antarctica's Ice

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Although it's safe to assume that this massive hole in sea ice is connected to the climate change, however, that may not be the case.

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

Climate models predicted the polynya, but it was looked at as a glitch and not a true possibility until it reappeared after decades, Newsweek reported.

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.

"In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we've had this area of open water", Kent Moore, professor of physics at the University of Toronto, told National Geographic. This is a sea ice feature which basically gives a name to open areas of water that should have normally been covered by ice.


"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.

It's larger than The Netherlands, and almost the size of Lake Superior. In case of this giant hole, it is unusual that it has formed "deep in the ice pack". According to NASA, that sinking water contributes to the cold water mass, known as Antarctic Bottom Water, which feeds into deep ocean currents and contributes to ocean circulation around the globe. Many consider this to be a polynya that suffers a change of state, rather than temperature. Now we managed to collect a very large amount of data, the further analysis of which will help explain the processes responsible for raising the warm layers of sea water closer to the surface. The polynya is the dark region of open water within the ice pack.

This patch of water among miles of ice appeared about a few months ago during a time when the ice is normally very thick, and because of its remote location, researchers are mostly relying on satellite imagery to study it.

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

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