Cracking the secret of Antarctic ice holes

Holes in the Antarctic sea ice have been forming for decades, and are a mystery to science.
21 June 2019
Presented by Matthew Hall


Melting Ice


Large holes in Antarctic sea ice remain a mystery to scientists despite their discovery over four decades ago. These vast areas of unfrozen water, often referred to as polynyas which is a russian term for natural ice hole, were first spotted in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea during the 1970’s. They can grow as large as New Zealand and last anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 years. To better understand the phenomenon, oceanographers from the University of Washington led by Ethan Campbell have analyzed decades of data on polynya development, specifically data from two polynyas that formed in 2016 and 2017. The team has recently published their research in the journal Nature, which led Matthew Hall to get in touch with PhD student Ethan Campbell to find out how exactly polynyas are forming.


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