by Eddie Gonzales Jr.

April 25, 2019

from MessageToEagle Website





Maud Rise Polynya

of September 2017

(the ice-free area near the yellow star)

seen from space.

Credit: Scar Atlas




Scientists have tried to solve the mystery of Polynya in Antarctica for decades. Maybe they have now an answer that can shed light on what's causing this strange phenomenon.

There is an unusual geographical region in Antarctica where scientists discovered an area of unfrozen water surrounded by a large body of ice.


Its geographical term Polynya...

The Maud-Rise Polynya (below images) that was initially spotted in Antarctica in 1974, and it reappeared in September 2017 at the same location.

It's very strange that unfrozen water can be found where everything else is frozen. Could heat from below the ground keep the water in liquid state, or is there another explanation?


Return of the Maud Rise Polynya - Climate Litmus or Sea Ice Anomaly?

Extracted from this this source


Researchers how long wondered how this phenomenon occurred during Antarctica's coldest, winter months when ice is at its thickest.

A study led by NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Research Scientist Diana Francis may now have solved the mystery.

At the time of the discovery, the Maud-Rise Polynya was approximately 9,500 square kilometers large (equivalent to the landmass of the state of Connecticut), and grew by over 740 percent to 800,000 square kilometers within a month.


Eventually, the Polynya merged with the open ocean once the ice started to retreat at the beginning of the austral summer months.


Prior to 2017, this phenomenon has only been known to have occurred in the 1970s when satellite observations started to become more commonly used.

This site has baffled scientists ever since.

The area is very difficult to access so researchers had to use a combination of satellite observations and reanalysis data to discover that cyclones (as intense as category 11 in the Beaufort Scale) and the strong winds that they carry over the ice pack cause ice to shift in opposite directions, which leads to the opening of the Polynya.




What Can Polynya Reveal About Climate Change?

"Once opened, the Polynya works like a window through the sea-ice, transferring huge amounts of energy during winter between the ocean and the atmosphere." said Francis.


"Because of their large size, mid-sea Polynyas are capable of impacting the climate regionally and globally as they modify the oceanic circulation.


It is important for us to identify the triggers for their occurrence to improve their representation in the models and their effects on climate."


Map of the sea ice distribution

around Antarctica on Sept. 25, 2017,

derived from satellite data.

The red circle marks the actual

Weddell Polynya.



"Given the link between Polynya and cyclones we demonstrated in this study, it is speculated that Polynya events may become more frequent under warmer climate because these areas will be more exposed to more intense cyclones.

Previous studies have shown that under warmer climate, polar cyclone activity will intensify and extratropical cyclones track will move toward Antarctica which could decrease the sea-ice extent and make Polynya areas, closer to the cyclones formation zone," she added.