PerspectiveClimate

Open Windows to the Polar Oceans

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Science  01 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5522, pp. 1670-1671
DOI: 10.1126/science.1061186

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Summary

Polynyas, large holes in the polar sea ice caused by divergent sea ice drift, may persist for weeks to years through mechanisms that are not well understood. In his Perspective, Lemke highlights the report by Holland, who has found an interesting new mechanism for the formation of the Weddell Polynya, a hole the size of Great Britain that formed in the 1970s in three consecutive winters. The mechanism, which invokes eddies caused by a seamount, helps explain the formation of the polynya, but the question of why the polynya has not formed since the 1970s remains unanswered.