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Hole The Size Of Maine Opens In Antarctica Ice

Hole The Size Of Maine Opens In Antarctica Ice

This gaping polynya, which measures an area equivalent to the Netherlands, opened right in the middle of a sea which would have otherwise been completely covered in thick ice.

A preliminary analysis run by American scientists suggests that the Weddell Polynya should not occur again because of climate change at all.

"This one is deep in the ice pack".

Despite its long and mysterious history, nobody's ever seen the massive polynyaup close because it's in such a remote region of Antarctica's Weddell Sea. 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. Intriguingly, this polynya is located extremely far from the sea ice coastline, where these kinds of openings usually appear.

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

Moore says they are working to understand what is triggering the formation of these holes again after so many years. As per the report, the largest estimates of the hole's current size put it around 80,000 square kilometers.

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Scientists believe the polynya is formed because of the deep water in the Southern Ocean being warmer and saltier than the surface water. & Gnanadesikan, A. Global atmospheric teleconnections and multidecadal climate oscillations driven by Southern Ocean convection.

One of the biggest reason as to why this polynya remains so mysterious is that it's quite hard to explore such areas.

But, with new observations using technology far more advanced than that available when it first appeared 40 years ago, they're hoping to uncover some answers.

The cooling of the warmer ocean water when it reaches the surface may also have a broader impact on the ocean's temperature, but Moore says outside of local weather effects, scientists aren't sure what this polynya will mean for Antarctica's oceans and climate, and whether it is related to climate change.

Actually, this type of phenomena can be termed as polynya- an area of open water completely enclosed by sea ice. "The better we understand these natural processes, the better we can identify the anthropogenic impact on the climate system", Latif said.

As scientists continue to hone their climate models and flawless their predictions, they're getting closer to being able to accurately simulate the exact process at work, but a full explanation may still be years away.

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