Researchers believe that the hidden subglacial lake harbors unique life that has been lying undisturbed for millions of years.
Scientists have discovered a massive lake underneath the ice of Antarctica and they suspect that the lake harbors unique life that is isolated and undisturbed and is calmly flourishing in the frozen continent for millions of years.
Earlier this year, British scientists have found the evidence of world largest canyon system beneath Antarctic ice but as they collected more data, they realized that there could also be a massive lake under the ice sheet.
The findings were presented at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna this week and indicated that the lake is approximately 100 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide, making it second largest lake under the Antarctic ice behind Lake Vostok which is 240 x 60.
The subglacial lake is connected to the canyon system lying underneath the region known as Princess Elizabeth Land.
“We’ve seen these strange linear channels on the surface and are inferring these are above massive, 1000 kilometre-long channels and there’s a relatively large subglacial lake there too.” Martin Siegert of Imperial College London and one of the members who located the putative lake told New Scientist.
Researchers from China and US have recently flown over the Antarctic region and gathered radar data that will help confirm the existence of the lake under the ice.
The particular region of Antarctic where canyon system and subglacial lake is assumed to have existed is one of two “Poles of Ignorance” in the continent, which have not been directly measured yet.
“That is a region of Earth that is bigger than the UK and yet we still know little about what lies beneath the ice. In fact, the bed of Antarctica is less well known than the surface of Mars. If we gain better knowledge of the buried landscape we will be better equipped to understand how the ice sheet responds to changes in climate.” Lead researcher Dr Stewart Jamieson, said in a statement in January.
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Researchers are next scheduled to meet in May to analyze the new data and to test the validity of their hypothesis.