Research, Technology

Liquid lake the size of a city found under the ice of Antarctica

In recent research work, scientistsviewed the Antarctic ice sheet with the help of satellites and noticed a huge depression on it. The researchers immediately realized that one of the hundreds of subglacial lakes with liquid water could be located under this area. In the course of studying the territory with the help of a special radar, scientists confirmed the correctness of the assumption put forward - at a depth of 3.2 kilometers, they found signs of the presence of a lake the size of a city. But the size is far from the main feature of the discovered lake. At its bottom there are deposits that could have formed millions of years ago, when trees grew on Antarctica and giant dinosaurs walked. If scientists can get sediment samples, they will be able to reconstruct in detail the process of formation of the Antarctic shield. However, extraction will require a lot of time - how to complete the task in the harsh conditions of Antarctica?

The coast of Antarctica near the location of the Snow Eagle Lake

Liquid lake under Antarctica

Found lake was given the name Snow Eagle(Snow Eagle). After finding a huge depression in the ice sheet, the researchers sent signals down using a special radar. They passed through the ice and, having reached liquid water and other objects, were reflected back. The reflection from water was brighter than from solid objects. According to geophysicist Shuai Yan, after receiving the signal, he literally jumped for joy.

Location of the subglacial lake Snow Eagle

Using radar, scientists were able to estimate the sizelakes. It is located at a depth of about 3.2 kilometers below the ice sheet. The length of the reservoir is 42 kilometers, and the width is 15 kilometers. The area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe Snow Eagle reaches 370 square kilometers - it contains 21 cubic kilometers of water. The depth of the lake itself is estimated at 200 meters.

The area under which Snow Eagle Lake is located, on a satellite image

How did Antarctica get covered in ice?

But scientists are not interested in water.Judging by the radar signals, there are some deposits at the bottom of the lake. Considering that it takes a long time for the accumulation of a loose layer, the deposits must have been there for several million years. Scientists are very hopeful that the layer was formed even before the formation of the Antarctic shield. After all, if so, they can study the rocks and reconstruct the history of the ice sheet.

This lake has accumulated sediment for a verylong time. Thanks to this, we can literally go back to the period when there was no ice in Antarctica at all,” explained glaciologist Martin Siegert.

Scientists who found Snow Eagle Lake

Scientists are especially interested in what happened toice sheet of Antarctica 10,000 years ago. At that time, he underwent strong changes, but scientists have no idea what exactly caused them. Perhaps, in the course of studying the Snow Eagle and other lakes under the ice of Antarctica, this mystery will finally be revealed. Only here the reservoirs are very deep, and the extraction of samples of bottom sediments can take a lot of time and money. At the moment, scientists are planning to build a station near the study area so that they can live there and devote maximum of their time to studying the lake.

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How are liquid lakes preserved in Antarctica?

Perhaps you wondered - how in suchcold place like Antarctica can there be lakes with liquid water? A number of different factors contribute to their preservation. First, the huge mass of the ice sheet creates strong pressure at the depths of Antarctica, which lowers the freezing point of water. Secondly, the ice sheet protects subglacial lakes from surface cold - it is a kind of warm blanket. Thirdly, the water in the discovered lakes is often salty, and therefore does not freeze.

Scientists are taking samples of subglacial lakes, and there is a danger in this

Perhaps Antarctica remains the worstexplored place on Earth, after the depths of the oceans. This is both intriguing and frightening - the fact is that during the study of ancient lakes, scientists may well extract bacteria and viruses unknown to science. And they, in turn, can be the causative agents of deadly diseases. No matter how scientific interest causes another pandemic! Antarctica is also interesting to researchers because a huge number of meteorites lie on its surface. Scientists recently shared the good news that they have found the possible location of 300,000 meteorites - here are the details.