Tech & Science There's A Giant Hole In The Middle Of Antarctic Sea Ice The Recently Formed

01:40  12 october  2017
01:40  12 october  2017 Source:   International Business Times

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Researchers don't know why a huge hole formed in the middle of Antarctic sea ice . In the case of a polynya, water that is warmer than sea ice comes in contact with the ice , transfers some of its heat and consequently melts some of the ice .

The polynya is in the middle of the Weddell Sea . As sea ice forms , dense cold brine is ejected, sinking to the sea floor. Of that radiation, if antarctic sea ice is present at the average albedo of October sea ice down there , 443 watt-hours will be absorbed, and 1886 watt-hours will be reflected.

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A large hole has opened up in the sea ice cover that sits around Antarctica, satellite images show. The hole that’s the size of the state of Maine has been there for about a month or so but researchers aren’t really sure where it came from or why it formed.

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Older ice is generally thicker ice . Over the satellite record, there has been a significant decline in coverage of the oldest, thickest ice . Schlosser, E., Haumann, F. A., and Raphael, M. N. Atmospheric influences on the anomalous 2016 Antarctic sea ice decay.

We’d learned from an Antarctic vulcanologist (now there ' s a sexy job title) that Mount Erebus has recently surged in activity and is spitting out More than an hour later, we arrived at our destination: a tiny heated shed plopped on top of a large hole drilled in the middle of the Ross Sea ice .

These types of sea ice features are known as polynyas. They’re open water where there should, under normal circumstances, be sea ice. They’re sometimes irregularly shaped, but usually as in this case they’re large and roughly oval shaped. The space where they form stays open because there are processes that stop new ice from forming there or the ice is moving from the region. There are two different types of polynyas and they mainly differ in how they lose their ice.

A sensible-heat polynya is formed through the transfer of heat between two entities that are two different temperatures. When this happens the body with more heat transfers some of it to the body with less heat, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

In the case of a polynya, water that is warmer than sea ice comes in contact with the ice, transfers some of its heat and consequently melts some of the ice. This can happen when water above freezing temperatures upwells, or comes from lower parts of the ocean up to the top where the ice sits.

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Giant tabular icebergs are surrounded by ice floe drift in Vincennes Bay on January 11, 2008 in the Australian Antarctic Territory. As long as humans have been keeping track, there ’ s never been this much sea ice surrounding Antarctica . What gives?

Google images of Antarctica show what appears to be a giant staircase in the snow and a giant oval building under the ice . Initial speculation was that this outline out lyin’ in the middle of a frozen plain was a sastrugi – large grooves or ridges in the snow formed by wind and erosion.

  There's A Giant Hole In The Middle Of Antarctic Sea Ice The Recently Formed © Provided by IBT US The second type of polynya is a latent-heat polynya. These occur with a change in state rather than a change in temperature. When ice melts heat is then released into the the surroundings. They can occur when winds blow in one direction constantly and push the ice away.  

But this polynya was formed by a process separate from these two types of polynyas, atmospheric physicist Kent Moore told Motherboard. This polynya is deep in the ice pack which typically doesn’t happen.

As a professor at University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus Moore also works with the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling group. The group identified a polynya in the same area of the Weddell Sea in the 1970s, that was the last time a polynya this large was observed.

The researchers were able to get information about this hole thanks to a floating array that made its way to the polynya and ended up surfacing within it and made contact with satellites. The measurements it had made were transmitted at that time and will help reveal the cause for these types of polynyas. But the research is still unpublished as it’s still in the process of being gathered and analyzed.

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