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Antarctica DISCOVERY: Huge hole opens up and NO ONE knows why
15 October 2017, 01:31 | Clyde Nash
Giant Hole Opens in Antarctic Ice Pack, and No One Knows Why
The Weddell Sea polynya is like "an oasis" for Antarctic sea mammals, says scientist Kent Moore. The latest change is something tougher to explain.
However, an worldwide team of scientists have discovered the mysterious, 80,000 square foot hole the size of Lake Superior, making it the biggest polynya observed in Antarctica's Weddell Sea, which has researchers confounded.
"You could imagine you're in the middle of the Antarctic winter and essentially there's sea ice as far as you can see and then, suddenly, if you're walking along, you come across this huge expanse of open water", Kent Moore, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Toronto Mississauga, told As It Happens host Carol Off.
There's a name for this kind of feature-an area of open water completely enclosed by sea ice is known as a "polynya".
Scientists first spotted it via satellite in the early '70s, when it opened up for three consecutive winters. A smaller polynya was observed in the same area in the 1970s, but the exact scale of that fissure was not recorded.
Scientists - including a team from the University of Toronto - have discovered a mysterious hole the size of Lake Superior opening up in Antartica. However, scientists have not yet confirmed that.
In this satellite image of the Weddell Sea polynya taken on September 21, 2017, blue represents the ice's edge. The melting of sea ice causes a localized temperature contrast between the ocean and atmosphere, which drives a convection current. As a result, warmer water rises to the surface.
"If we didn't have a satellite, we wouldn't know it was there", Moore told Motherboard, adding it looks like someone "punched a hole" through the ice. However, we've got a good chance of understanding what's going on this time.
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