Strange Science: Holey Ice in Antarctica

Polynya off the Antarctic CoastHoles that open up in the ice pack in Antarctica are nothing new. They’re called polynyas, and they can be caused near coastlines by warmer water or wind.

Scientists have recently identified a polynya in Antarctica that is hundreds of kilometers inland, an unusual place for a polynya to form. It’s also roughly the size of the state of Maine (over 35,000 square miles).

They also note that it is at the same location where a polynya formed in the 1970s, but at that time, they weren’t able to study it very well–due to its location, they wouldn’t have even realized it was there without satellite imagery. This same spot also opened up last year, for a few weeks. So there’s definitely something unusual at work here, though the recurrence of this polynya in the same location suggests that the explanation may simply be something that has not been well studied previously. Although Antarctica has undergone many changes as a result of the Earth’s changing climate, the scientists studying this phenomenon do not believe that this polynya can be blamed on climate change, but it may have its own effect on the nearby oceans.

To read more about this polynya, check out this article!

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