An “ocean chimney” the size of Tasmania is pumping huge amounts of heat into the atmosphere. Headlines call the hole “mysterious,” but it doesn’t seem all that mysterious to me. I think the heat is coming from underwater volcanic activity.
A huge hole – roughly 30,000 square miles or the size of the state of Maine – has been spotted in sea ice near Antarctica. Australian media notes that the hole, roughly 80,000 square kilometers, is the size of Tasmania.
The humongous hole, known as a polynya, was detected about a month ago.
“We do not know why it appears right now,” says oceanologist Laura de Steur at the Norwegian Polar Institute.
The hole in the ice has emerged unusually far from the mainland, so far away that it would not have been discovered without satellite imagery, said de Steur.
“The hole is also different because there are no winds, but ocean currents that have formed it,” de Laure explains. This hole is formed by hot underwater currents that drive surface when it hits a large mountain in the ocean.
“With this hole we can test our climate models. It can also give us new information about what kind of natural climate variations happen in a period of 30-40 years, “says Steur.
It’s the largest polynya seen in the Weddell Sea since the 1970s, scientists say.
Polynyas, defined as a stretch of open water surrounded by ice, are frequently found in the Arctic and Antarctica, usually near the coast. But they rarely reach the size of this one located in middle of the pack ice.
Pumping heat into the atmosphere
The polynya works like “a chimney from the ocean through the sea ice”, transferring huge amounts of energy to the atmosphere, said Dr. Jan Lieser, a sea ice scientist at the University of Tasmania.
The polynya is releasing about 800 watts of energy per square meter – equivalent to about fourteen 60-watt light bulbs blazing away day and night, said Dr. Kent Moore, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto.
Headlines are calling the hole “mysterious,” but it doesn’t seem all that mysterious to me. I think those “hot underwater currents” are coming from underwater volcanic activity.
“I’m interested to know if this is one of your underwater volcanoes.” says Nick.
“This time Norwegian MSM doesn’t automatically blame humans but mentions natural variations,” says Flemming. “Could it be caused by underwater volcanoes?”
“Could it be the result of volcanic activity?” asks Hildo.