A gaping sink hole the size of Maine has opened up in Antarctica, and scientists don’t know why. This thing is an enormous hole in the ice. Basically, it’s a large area of open water surrounded by sea ice. This phenomena is called a polynias. They mostly form in regions close to a coast in Antarctica, what’s bizarre here though, is that this polynias is not coastal, and deep in an area of frozen ice. It’s hundreds of miles from the ice edge. If it wasn’t for satellites and technology, we wouldn’t know it was even there.
DANGEROUS POLYNIAS HOLE THE SIZE OF MAINE MISSING FOR FOUR DECADES
A polynias was original found in the same location back in the 1970s, Back then, our satellite technology wasn’t quite as advanced, so that hole remained largely unstudied. Then it went away for four decades, until last year, when it popped open again for a few weeks, then froze back over. Now it’s back for revenge.
CLIMATE CHANGE NOT TO BLAME, NECESSARILY
While it’s tempting to blame this strange and massive hole on climate change, which is reshaping much of the world, including Antarctica. Scientists can say with certainty, though, that this polynia will have a wider impact on the oceans. Once the sea ice melts back, you have this huge temperature contrast between the ocean and the atmosphere. Denser, colder water sinks to the bottom of the ocean, while warmer water comes to the surface. This could enlarge the hole at worst, or keep it open longer than previous iterations. While climate change affects much of Antarctica, this may be something else altogether.
SCIENTIST RELAY ON SATELLITES AND DATA FROM TECHNOLOGY TO MOVE FORWARD
Scientist’s observations are based on modern technology, from satellites and deep sea robots. They collaborate and are working on research that aims to answer some of these questions. Compared to 40 years ago when the hole first appeared in Antarctica, the amount of data available is piling up. Antarctica is undergoing massive changes right now, and figuring out why a gaping hole could suddenly open up will be key to understanding larger systems at play.