There is now a HUGE hole in Antarctica, and we have no idea why. Is that unsettling enough for you?
This opening is called a polynya and was found by the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations Group (SOCCOM) at Princeton University in Washington. This whole region is completely free of ice, and it is about 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) as of September but has been up to 80,000 square kilometers (31,000 square miles) at one point. According to Motherboard, a polynya was observed in the same location in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea back in the 1970s, but back then observation tools were not as good as they are today so the location was not studied very much at the time. The polynya was said to have gone away for four whole decades until last year when it opened for a few weeks. Now, it is back and might be here to stay, who knows.
Some believe this could be the result of ‘natural’ climate changes, however it is a formation that we do not understand. Kent Moore told Motherboard that if we did not have satellites that they would not even know that this phenomenon was occurring. You see, mounting expeditions to this location is quite hard but scientists hope that by using robotic floats they will be able to better understand this ‘hole’ in time.
The robots being used at the moment have surfaced inside the polynya and are sending data back to the researchers so that they can process it. This will be able to reveal lots of answers for us in the future. Maybe in time we will know just what causes these holes to form.
This hole is said to literally be as large as the state of Maine. It is literally ‘bigger than the Netherlands.’ Despite being exposed to freezing winds and so forth this month is has remained strong and unable to refreeze. The version of this hole mentioned above from the 1970s was roughly the size of Arizona coming in at a 300,000 square kilometers.
Kent Moore says:
“It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice.”
This polynya was not expected to make another appearance and yet it has. For two years in a row now we have noticed this hole. Is man made climate change to blame? Until this polynya disappears again it will be studied, what do you think is causing these holes to appear? Check out the video below for a little more information.
(Featured Image Via: MODIS-AQUA/NASA WorldView/AMSR2 ASI/University of Bremen/Ethan Campbell, University of Washington)