A mysterious, massive Hole has just opened up on the surface of Antarctica leaving experts confused as they are unable to explain what caused its formation.
The hole—as large as lake superior or the state of Maine, with an approximate area of around 30,000 square mile—has created confusion among experts, who are unable to explain as to why exactly its there. Some blame it on climate change, but the truth is scientists have no idea.
According to atmospheric physicist Kent Moore, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus in an interview with Motherboard: the gigantic, mysterious hole “is quite remarkable, it looks like you just punched a hole in the ice.”
This is not the first time massive holes have appeared on Antarctica.
The blue curves represent the ice edge, and the polynya is the dark region of open water within the ice pack. Image: MODIS-Aqua via NASA Worldview; sea ice contours from AMSR2 ASI via University of Bremen
The mysterious apeparence—referrede to as a polynya—is off for a number of reasons but mostly because of its behavior.
It was spotted for the first time in the 1970’s but disappeared for several decades before showing up again, causing confusion among scientists.
“At that time, the scientific community had just launched the first satellites that provided images of the sea-ice cover from space,” Dr. Torge Martin of the GEOMAR Research Division explains of its initial discovery many decades ago. “On-site measurements in the Southern Ocean still require enormous efforts, so they are quite limited.”
The massive whole was recently found by a group of researchers from the University of Toronto and the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCOM) project, after they were monitoring the area with satellite technology after a similar hole appeared on Antarctica last years.
Winter sea ice blankets the Weddell Sea around Antarctica with massive extra-tropical cyclones hovering over the Southern Ocean in this satellite image from September 25, 2017. The blue curves represent the ice edge.
The 2017 hole is the largest one ever detected, having a diameter of around 30,000 square miles.
“In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we’ve had this area of open water,” says Kent Moore, professor of physics at the University of Toronto. “It’s just remarkable that this polynya went away for 40 years and then came back.”
There are many who are blaming the appearance of the massive holes on climate change, which is one of the main culprits for many abrupt changes seen on the Antarctica continent in the last couple of years. However, scientists are yet to find a connection between climate change and the appearance of massive holes.
Researchers from the SOCOM project are conducting a study of the massive hole which will hopefully provide more answers than questions.