Robots, satellites and seals bearing main sensors have been used to find out why there is a hole in the size of South Carolina in Antarctic sea ice.
Some background: Back in 1976, the researchers discovered that a large hole is occasionally seen in the floating ice that forms over the Antarctic Weddell Sea every winter. Why the hole (known as a "polynya") has become a mystery so far. The phenomenon seemed to disappear, but it occurred in 2016 and 2017, allowing researchers to study it.
Data Collection: A team from the University of Washington collected data from three sources: satellites, floating robots and elephant seals with temperature probes glued to their heads (don't worry, they don't hurt and fall naturally after a few months) . Because the seals often dive to extreme depths ̵
A discovery: Using these data, the team concluded that the latest polynyas were formed by a combination of intense storms, an underwater mountain, saltier water, and unusual ocean conditions. Their results were published in a document in Nature .
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