14 October, 2017
So the appearance of the hole-or polynya, as this type of phenomenon is called-is of interest to climate scientists and other observers.
At this time of year, the area is usually coated in thick ice. Researchers are stumped by the appearance of the new hole because it is "deep in the ice pack", Kent Moore, an atmospheric physicist at University of Toronto Mississauga, told the website.
A "polynya" is a large ice-free area that develops in an otherwise frozen sea; the features are commonly seen in both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. It was the first sighting of the polynya in over 40 years.
"At that time, the scientific community had just launched the first satellites that provided images of the sea-ice cover from space", said Torge Martin, a meteorologist and climate modeler, as quoted by Phys.org. "As per it stated in Wikipedia", a polynya is an area of open water surrounded by sea ice. A similar hole opened past year too. As per a report published by Motherboard, the scientists are yet not sure about the cause of opening up of this hole. 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. An enormous hole in the sea ice just opened up for no apparent reason, and researchers are at a loss as to why it might've happened. In certain conditions, however, the warm water can rise to the surface, melting the ice.
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"We don't really understand the long-term impacts this polynya will have", he says.
Head of GEOMAR's research division Professor Dr. Mojib Latif said the polynya acts like a pressure relief valve. Now we managed to collect a very large amount of data, the further analysis of which will help explain the processes responsible for raising the warm layers of sea water closer to the surface. The hole opened up again a year ago for the first time in four decades, and reappeared, even larger, last month.
The hole first showed up on satellite images on September 9 and the researchers said it would be premature to blame the polynya on climate change.
'Global warming is not a linear process and happens on top of internal variability inherent to the climate system, ' Latif says.