According to scientists, the formation of huge holes in the ice layer on the sea surface can lead to significant climate changes as a result of the circulation of sea water, and further analysis of the data will help to more accurately assess the possible consequences of these processes for the terrestrial climate. A more thorough and prolonged research would reveal the real reason behind the huge hole.
Moore, along with the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) group at Princeton, are studying the mysterious hole, which showed up in satellite images around September 9.
A polynya in the same area was also observed here in the 1970s but observation tools then were not almost as good as the ones available today, so the hole was largely unstudied.
Scientists weren't expecting the polynya to re-appear, and aren't sure why it has resurfaced twice in the past two years.
The Southern Ocean has a fairly layered structure, and above the layer of warmer and salt water is a layer of cold and relatively fresh water.
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"When sea ice forms in polynyas or elsewhere, salt is expelled into the water, raising the salinity of the near-surface water". That melting created the polynya. When the warmer water cools, on contact with the frigid temperatures in the atmosphere, it sinks.
A polynya allows heat to escape the ocean, cooling the top layer of the sea water.
"In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we've had this area of open water", Moore told National Geographic. He thinks it is likely that marine mammals could be using this new opening to breathe.
Blaming climate change for this giant hole is one alternative that the scientists have but according to Moore, that would be a premature thing. "We don't really understand the long-term impacts this polynya will have".
A larger version of the hole was observed in satellite observations in the same area of Antarctica in 1974, and it reopened previous year for a few weeks.
Still, it's unclear how often the Weddell Polynya re-emerges, and how long it will linger now that it's opened back up.