Weddell Polynya

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The Weddell Polynya or Weddell Sea Polynya is a polynya or irregular area of open water surrounded by sea ice in the Weddell Sea of the Southern Ocean off the Antarctica and near the Maud Rise.[1][2] The size of New Zealand, it re-occurred each winter between 1974 and 1976.[3] These were the first three austral winters observed by the Nimbus-5 Electrically Scanning Microwave Radiometer (ESMR).[4] Since 1976, the polynya has never been seen again. Since the 1970s, the polar Southern Ocean south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current has freshened and stratified, likely a result of anthropogenic climate change. Such stratification may be responsible for suppressing the return of the Weddell Sea polynya.[5][6]

Other Antarctic polynyas[edit]

The presence of polynyas in McMurdo Sound provides an ice-free area where penguins can feed, so is important for the survival of the Cape Royds penguin colony.[7]


  1. ^ David Holland (5 May 2003). "Background - Weddell Polynya". New York University. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  2. ^ D M Holland (1 June 2001). "Explaining the Weddell Polynya--a large ocean eddy shed at Maud Rise". Science. 292: 1697–700. doi:10.1126/science.1059322. PMID 11387470. 
  3. ^ "The Weddell Polynya". University of Toronto/NASA. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Claire L. Parkinson; Joey C. Comiso & H. Jay Zwally (2014). "Nimbus-5 ESMR Polar Gridded Sea Ice Concentrations". National Snow and Ice Data Center. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Casimir de Lavergne, Jaime B. Palter, Eric D. Galbraith, Raffaele Bernardello & Irina Marinov (2 March 2014). "Cessation of deep convection in the open Southern Ocean under anthropogenic climate change". Nature Climate Change. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Sarah Zielinski (3 March 2014). "Climate Change Felt in Deep Waters of Antarctica". Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  7. ^ B. Stonehouse (3 December 1967). "Penguins in high latitudes". Tuatara: Volume 15, Issue 3. Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 16 December 2014.