BEACON TRANSCRIPT- Scientists are quite baffled after noticing that a very large hole formed or opened up in the Antarctic sea ice. According to reports, satellite images helped spot this unexpected formation, which is believed to be around a month old, possibly more.
The Antarctic Sea Ice, Home to a New Polynya?
Based on the satellite images, specialists approximate that this huge hole is about the size of the state of Maine. However, this did not help them establish how it formed there, or whether it might have possibly have come from somewhere else.
Reports point out that this is likely a polynya. This is a sea ice feature which basically gives a name to open areas of water that should have normally been covered by ice. Most polynyas are reportedly large, and mostly oval-shaped, but irregular ones have been recorded all the same.
Regions hosting polynyas usually remain open as either ice is moving away from the area or specific processes are stopping new ice from forming.
Scientists recognize two types of such Antarctic sea ice features, and the main difference between them is the way in which they lose their ice.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center offer an explanation for the sensible-heat polynyas. Namely, warmer water meets with the sea ice and, by transferring some of its heat to it, melts it.
The second type of polynyas is latent-heat ones. These can appear as ice gets pushed away by wind that blows constantly in a single direction. Many consider this to be a polynya that suffers a change of state, rather than temperature.
However, Kent Moore, an atmospheric physicist, is reported as having another opinion and theory as to how this latest and very large polynya formed.
The specialist points out that this new formation is quite atypical because it is located deep in the ice pack, which is not a usual occurrence. So Moore believes that this polynya must have formed because of another process.
As it is, researchers will likely start or continue studying this unusual polynya which appeared in the Antarctic sea ice coverage.
Image Source: Flickr