The researchers used remotely sensed sea ice maps, observations from autonomous buoys and tagged marine mammals, and computational models of the state of the ocean. As a result, they found that when the Weddell Sea current flows around Maud Rise, turbulent eddies move salt to the top of the seamount. From here, a process called 'Ekman transfer' helped move the salt to the north side of the Maud Rise, where the polynya first formed. Ekman displacement involves water moving at a 90 degree angle to the direction of the wind blowing over it, affecting ocean currents. "Ekman transport is an important missing element that is needed to improve the salt balance and maintain the mixing of salt and heat to the water surface," said Alberto Naveira Garabato, a researcher from the University of Southampton who was involved in the study. The polynya itself is an area where large amounts of heat and carbon are transferred between the ocean and the atmosphere. So big that it can affect heat and carbon conditions in the region. Polynya traces are said to survive in water for several years after they are formed. They can change how water moves and how currents carry heat toward continents. The high-density waters that form here can spread throughout the global ocean. Some of the same processes involved in the formation of the Maud Rise polynya, such as the uplift of deep, salty ocean water, are also driving a general reduction in sea ice in the Southern Ocean.