Antarctica’s Mysterious Ice Holes Are Finally Making Sense

Seals and robots are on the case

Researchers equipped seals with satellite tags to understand how water conditions might lead to large holes in Antarctic sea ice. Photo: Dan Costa/University of California, Santa Cruz

By Kat Eschner

Winter in Antarctica is frigid, persistently dark, violently stormy, and, at least in some years, home to puzzling holes in the sea ice. Known as polynyas, these strange pits “have been this enduring mystery in polar oceanography” since several large ones were first…

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