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Massive Giant Hole Larger Than The Netherlands Cracks Open In Antarctica
13 October 2017, 12:38 | Terri Saunders
A giant hole has opened up in Antarctica. Motherboard
Scientists are now investigating to know how it was formed. This gaping polynya, which measures an area equivalent to the Netherlands, opened right in the middle of a sea which would have otherwise been completely covered in thick ice. Such ice-free areas are called 'polynya' (Russian) by polar scientists. Then it wasn't seen for four decades, reopened for a few weeks past year and has emerged yet again.
A huge hole almost the size of the state of ME has opened up in the thick sea ice blanketing Antarctica's Weddell Sea.
At its largest the polynya measured 80,000 kilometres - making it larger than the Netherlands and roughly the same size as the US state of Maine. It went away for four decades until it reopened for a few weeks previous year.
At the moment scientists cannot explain the origin of this hole.
The going theory, Moore said, is that ocean currents are lifting warmer waters from the ocean's depths up to the surface, where it's melting the ice. Did the Weddell polynya occur before 1970, and we are looking at a periodic process that shows itself about every 40 years?
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Blaming climate change for this giant hole is one alternative that the scientists have but according to Moore, that would be a premature thing. The reappearance of the hole will bring new data to help solve the quandary. The salt increases the density of the surface water, making the surface water heavier than the water below, causing it to sink.
The Southern Ocean of Antarctica has very deep waters which is warmer and saltier than the surface water.
A larger version of the hole was observed in satellite observations in the same area of Antarctica in 1974, and it reopened past year for a few weeks.
Although it's safe to assume that this massive hole in sea ice is connected to the climate change, however, that may not be the case.
'Global warming is not a linear process and happens on top of internal variability inherent to the climate system, ' Latif says.
Researchers say that with new ocean measurements, the space-based images and climate models, they're hoping to finally unravel the polynyas' secrets and their impacts on the climate.
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