Scientists have recently spotted the biggest opening in the Antarctic Ice since the 1970s. A satellite took the first picture of the mysterious hole on September 25, 2017.
The New Hole in the Antarctica Ice Is Known as Polynya
Around a month ago, a team of scientists from the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and the University of Toronto came upon a harrowing discovery. Their project to learn more about last year’s opening of a hole needed them to investigate the area through satellite monitoring. In the end, they learned about the formation of a new hole.
Such an appearance is known as a polynya. The term describes an ice pack growing an area of unfrozen water in it. Some of them can last over numerous winters. This was the case of the Weddell Polynya that only the new hole equals in its large dimensions.
As Antarctica is renowned for its aggressive winters, it is hard for scientists to discover such mysterious points in its ice to study them. This year, the team knew where to look for based on last year’s discovery. However, the difference this year is that the hole features a much larger size.
The location of the event is the part of the Southern Ocean with warmer and saltier water. Ocean currents are carrying these corrosive agents all the way to the surface. The high temperature starts melting holes in the blankets of ice which will come to be known as polynya.
Scientists Need More Data to Better Understand Such Phenomena
The contact between water and the atmosphere makes it difficult for new layers of ice to cover the hole. Even though the water of the surface cools, it will sink to the bottom to be reheated. In the meantime, a fresh mass of tepid water will take its place.
On the other hand, scientists don’t know precisely why these holes are reopened after some time. Kent Moore, professor of physics at the University of Toronto, claims that the culprits are marine mammals. They use these openings to breathe. Nonetheless, researchers will continue to investigate polynya to learn of its possible long-term effects.
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