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Researchers are stumped by the appearance of the new hole because it is "deep in the ice pack", Kent Moore, an atmospheric physicist at University of Toronto Mississauga, told the website.

Researchers, including a group at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, have been closely monitoring the polynya since it first reappeared in the satellite data.

Known as polynyas or semipermanent area of open water in sea ice, this Weddell polynya is quite mysterious in terms of its origin. Since during the first observation the scientists did not have the opportunity to study it, it remains unclear why it appears and how it disappears. Scientists, however, say that the hole will have wider effect on the oceans.

Although it's safe to assume that this massive hole in sea ice is connected to the climate change, however, that may not be the case. The hole opened up again previous year for the first time in four decades, and reappeared, even larger, last month.

A mysterious hole as big as the state of ME has been spotted in Antarctica's winter sea ice cover.

"In the depths of winter, for more than a month, we've had this area of open water", Moore said.

Some scientists speculate that the formation of the Weddell polynya is part of a cyclical process, though the details are unclear.

It's larger than The Netherlands, and almost the size of Lake Superior. As that water becomes colder and denser, it sinks and thus allows more warm water to rise above and keep the hole open. In case of this giant hole, it is odd that it has formed "deep in the ice pack".

Professor Mojib Latif explained to Phys.org that this process leads to extra heat being released to the atmosphere for several winters in a row until the heat reservoir reaches the highest levels.

One of the biggest reason as to why this polynya remains so mysterious is that it's quite hard to explore such areas. The polynya is the dark region of open water within the ice pack. Due to higher precipitation levels in the region and melting ice, the surface is expected to decouple from deeper water layers.

While Moore warns that it's too soon to blame global warming, other scientists note the differences between climate change caused by human activities and natural changes to the climate system. "We don't really understand the long-term impacts this polynya will have".


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