Sunday, 22 October, 2017

Massive Giant Hole Larger Than The Netherlands Cracks Open In Antarctica

A Giant Mysterious Hole Has Emerged In Antarctica And Scientists Still Don't Know The Reason Mystery of the massive hole nearly the size of Maine that has opened up in the sea ice around Antarctica
Howard Terry | 13 October, 2017, 00:36

"It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice", atmospheric physicist Kent Moore, of the University of Toronto, told Vice's Motherboard. It would not be noticeable without satellite imagery.

"This is hundreds of kilometres from the ice edge". However, it disappeared for several decades before showing back up, throwing a huge kink in many scientific explanations for its existence.

Sea ice and clouds blanket the Weddell Sea around Antarctica in this satellite image from September 25, 2017.

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

A mysterious "hole" larger than Maryland has reappeared in the middle of Antarctica after 42 years.

Some scientists speculate that the formation of the Weddell polynya is part of a cyclical process, though the details are unclear.

While its reappearance has spurred some questions, the experts say the processes driving it are relatively well- understood. Instead, the Weddel Polynya can be pinned to water stratification in the Southern Ocean, according to scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research who closely following its development. As per the report, the largest estimates of the hole's current size put it around 80,000 square kilometers. "In some cases, the high-density surface water mixes with other masses and sinks all the way to the ocean bottom", the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) explained.

The latest technology allows them to study the polynya even if their access to the site itself in the Southern Ocean is insufficient.

One of the biggest reason as to why this polynya remains so mysterious is that it's quite hard to explore such areas. The cold surface layer is shown in blue, with warm water indicataed in red. Then it wasn't seen for four decades, reopened for a few weeks a year ago and has emerged yet again.

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. "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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