Massive Hole Appears In Antarctic Ice and Scientists Aren't Sure Why

Mystery of the massive hole nearly the size of Maine that has opened up in the sea ice around Antarctica

"If we didn't have a satellite, we wouldn't know it was there", Moore told Motherboard, adding it looks like someone "punched a hole" through the ice.

Polynyas are geographical areas of unfrozen sea within the ice pack. However, it disappeared for several decades before showing back up, throwing a huge kink in many scientific explanations for its existence.

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of a polynya off the coast of Antarctica, near Ross Island and McMurdo Station on November 16, 2011.

Since the hole continually exposes the water to the atmosphere above, it is hard for new ice layers to form.

A mysterious hole as big as the state of ME has been spotted in Antarctica's winter sea ice cover.

A giant hole has opened up in Antarctica that could possibly be as big as the state of ME (91,646 km²) and Lake Superior (82,103 km²).

But Earther notes that another team, from the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, believes its reappearance confirms their climate variability models, which suggested the polynya could show up again. "In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we've had this area of open water", Kent Moore, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Toronto, told National Geographic. This nearly twice the size of the Netherlands and marginally smaller than Ireland.

A "polynya" is a large ice-free area that develops in an otherwise frozen sea, and this particular formation is situated in the Weddell Sea, east of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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'A very cold but relatively fresh water layer covers a much warmer and saltier water mass, thus acting as an insulating layer.

"The Southern Ocean is strongly stratified".

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

The going theory on what caused it has to do with water currents and a flow of warmer water rising up and melting the ice.

Actually, this type of phenomena can be termed as polynya- an area of open water completely enclosed by sea ice.

Though the appearance is mysterious, it's too early to blame climate change, according to Motherboard. But scientists are denying to conclude that this has happened due to global warming.

'The better we understand these natural processes, the better we can identify the anthropogenic impact on the climate system'.

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