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Massive Hole Has Opened Up in Antarctica

14 October 2017

The polynyas are an area of open water in an ice-covered pond, on all sides it is surrounded by ice.

A hole the size of ME has formed in the ice in Antarctica's Weddell Sea, and scientists have no concrete theory as to why.

At its largest the polynya measured 80,000 kilometres - making it larger than the Netherlands and roughly the same size as the US state of Maine.

In a shocking natural incident, a massive hole has formed in the ice of Antarctica leaving scientists baffled to why it's there.

"In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we've had this area of open water", Moore told National Geographic. In an otherwise thick layer of sea ice, still frozen from the Antarctic winter, the hole is an aberration.

Read the full story at USA Today.

The Southern Ocean of Antarctica has very deep waters which is warmer and saltier than the surface water.

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A team that includes researchers from the University of Toronto and the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) group at Princeton University are monitoring the area with satellite technology and using robotic floats that are capable of operating under sea ice to finally shed some light on the polynya and their impact on the climate.

In the winter of 2016, a much-diminished Weddell showed up again on satellite images.

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

Head of GEOMAR's research division Professor Dr. Mojib Latif said the polynya acts like a pressure relief valve. Many consider this to be a polynya that suffers a change of state, rather than temperature. Scientists knew to monitor the area for polynyas this year because of last year's discovery.

"There's a bit of a mystery going on in Antarctica at the moment", said Céline Heuzé, a physical oceanographer at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, to Earther. The hole opened up again a year ago for the first time in four decades, and reappeared, even larger, last month. 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.

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

Massive Hole Has Opened Up in Antarctica