Huge Mysterious Hole appears in Antartic Ice!

Massive hole in Antartica

A mysterious hole nearly the size of South Carolina has opened in Antarctica’s sea ice. This massive hole is called polynya. Scientists observed a similar polynya in the same area of Antarctica in 1974. It reappeared during the austral winters of 1975 and 1976, then disappeared. It disappeared for several decades before showing back up. It is around 80,000 sq.kms – almost as big as South Carolina. It may be due to climate change. But some scientists says that it is part of a cyclical process.

Polynyas allows heat to escape the ocean thereby cooling the top layer of water. As that water becomes colder and denser, it sinks, allowing more warm water to rise and keep the hole open.

What is Polynya?

A polynya is an area of open water surrounded by sea ice. It is now used as geographical term for an area of unfrozen sea within the ice pack. Polynyas are formed through two main processes:

  • Sensible heat polynya: this is thermodynamically driven, and typically occurs when warm water upwelling keeps the surface water temperature at or above the freezing point. This reduces ice production and may stop it altogether.
  • Latent heat polynya: is formed through the action of katabatic wind or ocean currents which act to drive ice away from a fixed boundary, such as a coastline, fast ice, or an ice bridge.

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