- News Home
17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
ScienceShot: First Evidence of Life Under Antarctic Ice
7 February 2013 5:05 pm
Under about 1000 meters of West Antarctic ice lies a complex jumble of lakes and streams—and now, researchers have their first glimpse of life that lurks down there. Last month, a U.S. team successfully used a hot-water drill—a technology designed to prevent contamination—to reach subglacial Lake Whillans. Today, the team announced that they have the first evidence of microbial life in subglacial Antarctic waters, shown here just as the team's underwater camera reached the bottom of the lake. The U.S. team is one of three international groups that sought to penetrate Antarctica's subglacial waters in the past month, seeking clues not only to glacial microbiology but also to ice sheet dynamics and the impact of climate change on the continent. Although a British team was unsuccessful in its quest to penetrate Lake Ellsworth, a group of Russian scientists successfully retrieved samples from Lake Vostok, thousands of kilometers away on the Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet. What microbial life might lurk in Lake Vostok's waters is a mystery—it has likely been isolated from the rest of the planet for perhaps millions of years. The Whillans system is different in that it has been in periodic contact with surface waters. Ice deformation data from NASA's ICEsat, which indicates subglacial water movement, suggest that the lake has completely filled and drained twice since data-taking began in 2003. But the team hopes the Lake Whillans microbial community can help it understand so-called extremophile organisms that can exist in the extreme dark and cold, and how such microbes might also be affecting the chemistry of the ice itself.
See more ScienceShots.
*Correction, 8 February: Lake Whillans is under 1000 meters of ice, not 1000 kilometers.