In Antarctica there was a mysterious giant hole


But scientists say it is unusual to see one appearing so far in to the densely packed ice.

Since the hole continually exposes the water to the atmosphere above, it is hard for new ice layers to form.

However, this is not the first time that this particular hole has emerged in Antarctica.

In this satellite image of the Weddell Sea polynya taken on September 21, 2017, blue represents the ice's edge.

A preliminary analysis run by American scientists suggests that the Weddell Polynya should not occur again because of climate change at all. While polynyas are not uncommon in the Arctic and Antarctica, they usually only form near the coast.

The hole has an area of approximately 80,000 square kilometers (30,000 square miles), and is as large as Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes of North America, or the state of Maine.

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While Moore warns that it's too soon to blame global warming, other scientists note the differences between climate change caused by human activities and natural changes to the climate system. The Weddell Sea polynya is like "an oasis" for Antarctic sea mammals, says scientist Kent Moore.

"Why was the Weddell polynya present in the 1970s, and then absent until its recent reappearance?"

The odd ice-free area was first spotted in the 1970s in the midst of the harsh Antarctic winter, despite frigid temperatures - and now, 40 years after it closed, the so-called Weddell Polynya has returned. "If there were earlier occurrences, there is no record of them", said Willy Weeks, a retired sea ice geophysicist from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, while commenting at the time of the polynya's re-emergence in 2016. The study of the giant hole will allow researchers to validate their climate models, Moore said. Ocean currents bring the warmer water upwards, where it melts the blankets of ice that had formed on the ocean's surface. "It allows a significant amount of heat to escape to the winter atmosphere, where air temperatures are thought to hover around minus 20 degrees Celsius".

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"We expect to see changes in the ocean, but it may take several years to see exactly how large those changes are and what impact they would have".

A larger version of the hole was observed in satellite observations in the same area of Antarctica in 1974, and it reopened a year ago for a few weeks. The information could very well expose what triggers the formation of these mysterious holes.