A hole the size of Maine—or larger than the Netherlands, depending on which geographic mass means more to you—has opened up in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. In an otherwise thick layer of sea ice, still frozen from the Antarctic winter, the hole is an aberration.
Ice scientists aren’t sure what’s going on, but they’re all talking about it.
“It looks like you just punched a hole in the ice,” atmospheric physicist Kent Moore, of the University of Toronto, told Vice’s Motherboard.
Moore, along with the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling (SOCCOM) group at Princeton, are studying the mysterious hole, which showed up in satellite images around Sept. 9.
Scientists call holes surrounded by sea ice “polynyas.” National Geographic explains that polynas are created when ocean currents push warm water toward the surface, melting the ice that lies on top. As the surface water comes into contact with the Antarctic atmosphere, …