Skip to comments.A mysterious hole larger than the Netherlands has opened in the middle of Antarctic ice
Posted on 10/12/2017 11:31:02 AM PDT by Red Badger
A hole the size of Maineor larger than the Netherlands, depending on which geographic mass means more to youhas opened up in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. In an otherwise thick layer of sea ice, still frozen from the Antarctic winter, the hole is an aberration.
Ice scientists arent sure whats going on, but theyre all talking about it.
It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice, atmospheric physicist Kent Moore, of the University of Toronto, told Vices Motherboard.
Autonomous float deployed in 2015 has resurfaced unexpectedly inside polynya & started transmitting data https://t.co/qnyTYRVoOy @NSF pic.twitter.com/JgfwdDtBoc
The Antarctic Report (@AntarcticReport) October 12, 2017
Moore, along with the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) group at Princeton, are studying the mysterious hole, which showed up in satellite images around Sept. 9.
Antarctic sea ice freeze season in review look for the formation of the #WeddellPolynya. Extent remains well below average (colored lines) pic.twitter.com/0HWFnDvA0D
Zack Labe (@ZLabe) October 2, 2017
Scientists call holes surrounded by sea ice polynyas. National Geographic explains that polynas are created when ocean currents push warm water toward the surface, melting the ice that lies on top. As the surface water comes into contact with the Antarctic atmosphere, it cools and sinks, then heats up again and rises back toward the surface.
This particular polynya previously appeared for multiple seasons in the 1970s. The hole opened up again last year for the first time in four decades, and reappeared, even larger, last month.
The mid-1970's featured an even larger polynya; there is a nice recent summary from @NASAEarth at https://t.co/2ScNCyK3d2. Fascinating! pic.twitter.com/PedPgbFGDc
Zack Labe (@ZLabe) October 2, 2017
Right now, why the hole opened again is a mystery. Moore says it would be premature to connect it to climate change, though his team is analyzing data to better understand what could have caused this.
This is now the second year in a row its opened after 40 years of not being there, Moore told Motherboard. Were still trying to figure out whats going on.
Amazing how the #WeddellPolynya withstands / stears the local #SeaIce dynamic. Winds can't seem to close it. pic.twitter.com/zSQkcCJ6DV
Thomas Lavergne (@lavergnetho) September 26, 2017
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.
While many climate models tend to produce such a large open ocean polynya, the feature was viewed more as a disruptive model glitch than a true phenomenon in the past, Torge Martin, a meteorologist and climate modeler at the Helmholtz Centre, told Earther. Its recurrence supports our hypothesis that the Weddell Polynya was not a one-time event but possibly occurred regularly in the past.
The news of the hole comes close behind other indications of major change in Antarctica. A few weeks ago, an iceberg over twice the size of Paris broke off from Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, in the same place that two other major ice calving events have taken place in recent years. And this week, a new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters found that warming oceans are dramatically undermining the integrity of an important floating ice shelf in West Antarctica. The warm water is carving what Washington Post reporter Chris Mooney called a huge, upside-down canyon in the ice sheet from below. The canyon cuts almost halfway through the Dotson ice shelf.
The status of the ice shelf doesnt have a direct impact on sea-level rise, since it is floating and therefore already displacing as much water as it would if it turned to liquid. But its stability is critically important; like other floating ice shelves, Dotson holds back large glaciers from sliding into the sea, which would definitely affect sea levels.
Winter sea ice blankets the Weddell Sea around Antarctica in this satellite image from September 25, 2017. The blue curves represent the ice edge. The polynya is the dark region of open water within the ice pack. (MODIS-Aqua via NASA Worldview; sea ice contours from AMSR2 ASI via University of Bremen)
Aliens or where Clinton buried several bodies?
The Sinkhole That Ate Antarctica!
Hot water plume over an incipient volcano?
I’m sorry but my lemonade was too warm.
I wonder what the water temperature is? I ask because there might be a volcano under that area. Antarctica has a lot of volcanoes under the ice.
I’m not sure anyone should care about a hole opening and closing up as the decades go on. Maybe I missed the author’s point of why we should care.
Uh,let me guess..
Middle Earth Ping!
The headline should have read:
Huge hole appears in Antarctic ice. Scientists are looking into it....
WaPo sez just another example of global warming in 3...2...1
There was an Edgar Allen Poe novel like this.
Well, that does it!
When ask the little green men said, “no comment”.
Most plausible explanation. People forget there are active volcanoes in Antarctica, for example Mount Erebus.
In the 1970s? That was when Time Magazine said we were heading into an Ice Age, right?
Maybe a huge asteroid?.........................
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