Researchers have revealed that there is a hidden world under Antarctica, researchers have shown giant ‘wetlands’ 800 meters below the ice in western Antarctica.
Thanks to the Whillans Ice Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers are one step closer to discovering exactly what lies beneath the thick layers of ice that cover most of the frozen continent.
They point out that Lake Whillans, first discovered in 2007 spanning a staggering 20 square miles, lying under 800 meters of ice in western Antarctica is eerily similar to a “wetland.”
The researchers hope that other studies will allow them to understand how sea levels rise and how ice behaves in response to global warming.
“It’s amazing to think we did not know that this lake existed until a decade ago,” said Helen Amanda Fricker of Scripps, who initially discovered Subglacial Lake Whillans in 2007 from satellite data.
“It’s exciting to see such a rich data set from the lake, and these new data help us understand how lakes work as part of the ice sheet system.”
Now you know that Subglacial Lake Shillans is fed by ice and contains small amounts of seawater from ancient marine sediments that can be found on the seabed of the lake.
The lake water is periodically drained into the ocean through some channels that connect the lake, however, with insufficient energy to transport much sediment.
Scientists have discovered that the ancient and isolated water reserve of the ocean has the ability to affect the biogeochemistry of this lake system.
The researchers concluded that the environment below the icy continent is very similar to a wetland within the coastal plain in other parts of the planet.
In ancient times, Antarctica was further north and experienced a tropical climate and was covered in forests and inhabited by several ancient life forms.