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Giant Hole in Antarctica Remains Unexplained

15 October 2017, 01:29 | Hattie Nash

Giant Hole Opens in Antarctic Ice Pack, and No One Knows Why

Gigantic Mystery Hole Opens in Antarctica, Are the Aliens Here?

The hole that has opened up is several hundred kilometers across with an area of about 80,000 square kilometers (about 30,888 square miles). In their observations, it has fluctuated in size up to a maximum of almost 80,000 square kilometers.

"In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we've had this area of open water", Kent Moore, professor of physics at the University of Toronto, told National Geographic.

A massive hole about the size of Lake Superior has opened up in Antarctica's ice pack and scientists are trying to figure out what's behind the phenomenon.

Polynyas allow heat to escape the ocean, cooling the top layer of water as it becomes colder and denser - allowing more warm water to rise and keep the hole open.

Antarctic sea ice freeze season in review - look for the formation of the #WeddellPolynya.

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Scientists recognize two types of such Antarctic sea ice features, and the main difference between them is the way in which they lose their ice. In September, one of these floats surfaced inside the polynya, providing unique data on its existence.

Researchers from the Princeton-based Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) group are conducting a study of the polynya that seeks to answer numerous questions.

Fantastic how the #WeddellPolynya withstands / stears the local #SeaIce dynamic. Moore also said the polynya can't be blamed on climate change since they don't know what's causing the hole to form. The hole opened up again previous year for the first time in four decades, and reappeared, even larger, last month. Most polynyas are reportedly large, and mostly oval-shaped, but irregular ones have been recorded all the same.

Ice scientists aren't sure what's going on, but they're all talking about it.

It's been open for four months so far in 2017 "and my guess is it will stay open for the rest of winter", Moore added. And this week, a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that warming oceans are dramatically undermining the integrity of an important floating ice shelf in West Antarctica, Quartz magazine reported.

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