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originally posted by: BELIEVERpriest
a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF
Well, our atmosphere is "zebra striped" with alternately rotating concentric rings of air. Those rings are more tightly packed at the poles, and less consentrated near the equator. The EU theory thinks that each ring is driven by a plasma column/filament connected to the sun. I think thats what drives tornadoes, hurricanes, and other storm systems. The plasma would have a thermal effect. With that in mind, if you think about the poles, the plasma would be much more concentrated, so possibly much hotter.
I'm just speculating. I'm sure someone like Phage will be around soon enough to tell me how terribly ignorant I sound.
A thermocline (also known as the thermal layer or the metalimnion in lakes) is a thin but distinct layer in a large body of fluid (e.g. water, such as an ocean or lake, or air, such as an atmosphere) in which temperature changes more rapidly with depth than it does in the layers above or below. In the ocean, the thermocline divides the upper mixed layer from the calm deep water below. Depending largely on season, latitude and turbulent mixing by wind, thermoclines may be a semi-permanent feature of the body of water in which they occur or they may form temporarily in response to phenomena such as the radiative heating/cooling of surface water during the day/night. Factors that affect the depth and thickness of a thermocline include seasonal weather variations, latitude and local environmental conditions, such as tides and currents.
Thermohaline circulation moves a massive current of water around the globe, from northern oceans to southern oceans, and back again. Currents slowly turn over water in the entire ocean, from top to bottom. It is somewhat like a giant conveyor belt, moving warm surface waters downward and forcing cold, nutrient-rich waters upward.
The top ocean layer is about 100 meters (330 feet) deep. Enough sunlight reaches that depth for organisms, such as phytoplankton, to carry out photosynthesis. Phytoplankton makes up the first part of the marine food chain and is essential to all ocean life.
The middle, or barrier, layer is called the thermocline. The ocean’s temperature and density change very quickly at this layer. The barrier layer is about 500 to 1,000 meters (1,600 to 3,300 feet) deep.
Below the barrier layer is the bottom layer, referred to as the deep ocean. It averages about 3 kilometers (2 miles) in depth.
Thermohaline circulation refers to two aspects which determine the density of sea water; temperature (thermo) and salinity (haline). Differences in density cause vertical movement of water masses, similar to thermals in the atmosphere.
I was close with "thermocline" but the proper term is "thermohaline" circulation.
A vortex (eddy) current is likely, bringing warmer saltier water upward toward the surface. To use another atmospheric analogy, like a dust devil. But really big and long lived.
Somehow, those nice layers got all mixed up and created a hole the size of Maine in thick Antarctic sea ice.
That paper I cited earlier asks a similar question.
I wonder if all that fresh water (from the melted ice above) dilutes the haline flow that much? Or is it just confined to the area of the polynya?
Is the ice deformed in a consistent manner that might aid or diminish the rate of ice formation and hence modify the static stability of the upper water column?
originally posted by: Phage
Looking closer at Google Earth; here's something interesting. Near as I can tell, the hole is located near (within 100 miles or so) of the Maud Rise seamount.
Now check this out:
A distinctive halo of sea ice deformation was observed above the Maud Rise seamount in the eastern Weddell Sea in the winter of 2005.
Though this paper is not specifically about a hole in the ice, it does say this:
Several authors hypothesize how environmental features may interact to cause ice thinning and polynya formation. Holland [2001a, 2001b] uses an isopycnal model to demonstrate how Ekman effects, induced by ocean circulation (in particular, cyclonic eddy shedding) can lead to ice thinning and polynya formation around an idealized seamount. He shows that transients in the mean oceanic flow toward the seamount produce polynya positioned on the flank of the seamount and located about 90 degrees to the left of the direction of the oncoming flow transient.
The central idea being that the sea mount causes mixing with a deeper layer of warmer, saltier water by spinning off vortices. Similar to the way a mountain on land influences the weather around it by deflecting the wind. So, a periodic change in deep sea currents in the area?