Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Researchers Wonder Why a Giant Hole Keeps Opening Up in Antarctica

Researchers Wonder Why a Giant Hole Keeps Opening Up in Antarctica

Atmospheric physicist Kent Moore, a professor at the University of Toronto said that the hole is quite remarkable and it looks like you just punched a hole in the ice.

"This is hundreds of kilometres from the ice edge". Now that it is back, scientists have more sophisticated resources that enable them to improve their observations.

But researchers caution that it would be "premature" to blame it on climate change.

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The polynya went away for forty years and reopened in September 2016 for a few weeks.

According to scientists, the formation of huge holes in the ice layer on the sea surface can lead to significant climate changes as a result of the circulation of sea water, and further analysis of the data will help to more accurately assess the possible consequences of these processes for the terrestrial climate. Last month, SOCCOM scientists were astonished to discover that a float in the Weddell Sea had surfaced inside the polynya, making contact with satellites in the dead of winter.

As these ice gaps typically form in coastal regions, however, the appearance of a polynya "deep in the ice pack" is an unusual occurrence.

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While its reappearance has spurred some questions, the experts say the processes driving it are relatively well- understood. As per the report, the largest estimates of the hole's current size put it around 80,000 square kilometers.

Usually, a very cold but fresh layer of water covers a warmer and saltier layer of water, acting as insulation.

"The Southern Ocean is strongly stratified". "This is like opening a pressure relief valve-the ocean then releases a surplus of heat to the atmosphere for several consecutive winters until the heat reservoir is exhausted", Latif said.

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Simulated temperature development in the area of the polynya is illustrated above. However, previous other studies which applied the "Kiel Climate Model" found that polynya is part of a long-term naturally varying process, which can only mean the hole will open again sooner or later. Due to higher precipitation levels in the region and melting ice, the surface is expected to decouple from deeper water layers. Sometimes, the scientists reveal some good news related to new discovery and some time they warn the world regarding the effect of climate change and global warming on Antarctica.

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