Currently, winter has still a firm grip on Antarctica. At this time of the year, the Weddell Sea usually is covered with a thick layer of sea ice. In spite of the icy temperatures in the region, satellite images depict a large ice-free area in the middle of the ice cover. The area of the hole in the ice is larger than The Netherlands and it fascinates climate and polar researchers worldwide. Scientists from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel are closely monitoring the developments. “For us this ice-free area is an important new data point which we can use to validate our climate models. Its occurrence after several decades also confirms our previous calculations," says Dr. Torge Martin, meteorologist and climate modeler in the GEOMAR Research Division "Oceans Circulation and Climate Dynamics".