Antarctica, the large icy continent of our Earth, has always surprised scientists. Sometimes, the scientists reveal some good news related to new discovery and some time they warn the world regarding the effect of climate change and global warming on Antarctica. And now, some researchers have found out that a massive hole, about the size of Lake Superior, has opened up in Antarctica’s ice pack but they could not figure out the reason behind this unexpected phenomenon.
Actually, this type of phenomena can be termed as polynya- an area of open water completely enclosed by sea ice. But only the name is not enough to figure out the phenomena. Also, polynyas are generally found in the coastal regions of Antarctica at the edge of the ice pack, but the current big hole has been detected in an area where there is a thick and solid pack of ice which complicates the study. Again, it is the middle of winter in Antarctica, and this type of huge opened up hole is quite surprising.
Kent Moore, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Toronto Mississauga, said that it is just like imagining that someone is in the middle of the Antarctic winter and he or she can see huge sea ice stretched as far as possible and suddenly while walking along, the person comes across this huge expanse of open water. Scientists measured that the huge sea ice hole or polynya is almost 80,000 square kilometers at its peak- a little bigger than New Brunswick and a bit smaller than the island of Newfoundland.
Scientists first reported about its existence in the early ‘70s, and during that time it opened up for three consecutive winters. Then it reappeared in 2016, and astonishingly, it again came back this year and its size was even larger than last year. Moore said that this giant hole has been open for four months so far and he guessed that it would stay open for rest of the winter. He added that this polynya is deep in the ice pack and it is a couple of hundreds of kilometers away from the coast. This might have resulted from the fact that the ocean currents lift the warmer waters from the ocean’s depth up to the surface and thus the ice melts and ends up in making a huge hole. But scientists are denying to conclude that this has happened due to global warming. A more thorough and prolonged research would reveal the real reason behind the huge hole.