A huge hole has opened up in Antarctic ice pack, reason unknown

A huge hole has opened up in Antarctic ice pack, reason unknown

A huge hole has opened up in Antarctic ice pack, reason unknown

Scientists have discovered a hole as big as the state of ME or Lake Superior in the frozen ice of Antarctica's Weddell Sea, according to a report in the National Geographic.

After closing back up, and remaining that way for roughly 40 years, it has re-opened.

"At that time, the scientific community had just launched the first satellites that provided images of the sea-ice cover from space", said Torge Martin, a meteorologist and climate modeler, as quoted by Phys.org.

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

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The unusual ice-free area was first spotted in the 1970s in the midst of the harsh Antarctic winter, despite frigid temperatures - and now, 40 years after it closed, the so-called Weddell Polynya has returned.

These holes in the ice sheets are known as "polynya".

Actually, this type of phenomena can be termed as polynya- an area of open water completely enclosed by sea ice.

Polynyas usually form in Antarctica's coastal and scientists are trying to figure out why this one is so "deep in the ice pack", as atmospheric physicist Kent Moore told Motherboard. The polynya is the dark region of open water within the ice pack.

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It's larger than The Netherlands, and almost the size of Lake Superior. This might have resulted from the fact that the ocean currents lift the warmer waters from the ocean's depth up to the surface and thus the ice melts and ends up in making a huge hole.

Simulated temperature development in the area of the polynya is illustrated above. A robotic float, which was sent there for transmitting data from the Weddell Sea surprisingly surfaced inside the polynya last month, stated a news release from the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project at Princeton.

A larger version of the hole was observed in satellite observations in the same area of Antarctica in 1974, and it reopened a year ago for a few weeks. A more thorough and prolonged research would reveal the real reason behind the huge hole.

What is clear is that climate change does have an impact on the structure of the Antarctic Ocean.

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'Global warming is not a linear process and happens on top of internal variability inherent to the climate system, ' Latif says. "The better we understand these natural processes, the better we can identify the anthropogenic impact on the climate system", Latif said.

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