Southern Ocean

Atmospheric Rivers Help Create Massive Holes in Antarctic Sea Ice

Warm, moist rivers of air in Antarctica play a key role in creating massive holes in sea ice in the Weddell Sea and may influence ocean conditions around the vast continent as well as climate change, according to Rutgers co-authored research. Scientists studied the role of long, intense plumes of warm, moist air – known as atmospheric rivers – in creating enormous openings in sea ice. They focused on the Weddell Sea region of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica, where these sea ice holes (called polynyas) infrequently develop during the winter.

Almost Alien: Antarctic Subglacial Lakes are Cold, Dark and Full of Secrets

More than half of the planet’s fresh water is in Antarctica. While most of it is frozen in the ice sheets, underneath the ice pools and streams of water flow into one another and into the Southern Ocean surrounding the continent. Understanding the movement of this water, and what is dissolved in it as solutes, reveals how carbon and nutrients from the land may support life in the coastal ocean.