Scientists Finally Find the Reason Antarctic Ice has Mysterious Giant Holes

The source of the formation of the big holes in the Antarctic winter ice pack has been finally found, says a new study. These enormous holes have been appearing mysteriously from time to time in the past. These holes though have existed from as early as in the 1970s, the reason for their formation had been largely unknown. These giant holes are called polynyas which is a Russian word for open waters. They are suggested to have been formed by storms and salts.

The polynyas have come up in the news in the recent past because of the discovery of two very large such holes found in the Weddell sea in the years 2016 and 2017. In the discovery made in 2017, the hole was found to be as wide as 115,097 square miles (298,100 square kilometers) according to an article published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The new researches have been conducted by equipping seals with temporary satellite tags and some floating robots. The seals were later allowed to dive under the ice surface to collect data on the condition of water there.

Ethan Campbell, a doctoral student in oceanography at the University of Washington, while talking to Live Science said, “It may modify weather patterns around Antarctica.” He also suggested that only bad weather conditions couldn’t have been the sole reason for the formation of such massive holes as storms and bad weather are frequent occurrences in the region. The increased salinity of the surface, which is caused by winds from near to the coast is considered as a major reason for the ocean layers to separate. The harsh winds of the year 2016 and 2017 brought up warm waters from the bottom of the ocean which helped melt the ice.

The research examined polynyas in the course of their formation and found out them to be releasing huge amounts of heat into the atmosphere from the deep-sea. The scientists are still to find out what may be the consequences of heat discharged in such a way. The latest complete look at the giant holes has revealed that these are formed by bad weather conditions and rapidly alternating climate variations.