Did the Weddell polynya occur before 1970, and we are looking at a periodic process that shows itself about every 40 years? Again, it is the middle of winter in Antarctica, and this type of huge opened up hole is quite surprising. This isn't the first time it's been spotted, having appeared past year for a brief period as well, and long before that it was detected back in the 1970s. Experts believe that the Weddell polynya might a part of some cyclical process but they lack clear details. He said:"This is hundreds of kilometers from the ice edge". At its peak, the Weddell Polynya measured 31,000 square miles, which is larger than the Netherlands and almost the size of the state of Maine.
As the researchers note, often area of open sea surrounded by ice, known as polynyas, formed relatively close to the border of the ice and the sea.
Moore told Vice: "It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice".
The professor said: "This is now the second year in a row it's opened after 40 years of not being there. So something's going on, but we just don't have enough data yet to really pin it down".
"For us this ice-free area is an important new data point which we can use to validate our climate models", said Dr. Torge Martin, meteorologist and climate modeler at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel.
'Its occurrence after several decades also confirms our previous calculations'.
The latest technology allows them to study the polynya even if their access to the site itself in the Southern Ocean is insufficient.
It's larger than The Netherlands, and almost the size of Lake Superior.
'The Southern Ocean is strongly stratified, ' says Professor Dr Mojib Latif, head of the Research Division at GEOMAR.
Usually, a very cold but fresh layer of water covers a warmer and saltier layer of water, acting as insulation. Then it reheats in deeper areas, allowing the cycle to continue.
Simulated temperature development in the area of the polynya is illustrated above. In certain conditions, however, the warm water can rise to the surface, melting the ice.
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 hole was discovered by researchers about a month ago. But scientists are denying to conclude that this has happened due to global warming.
'The better we understand these natural processes, the better we can identify the anthropogenic impact on the climate system'.