How much longer will Antarctica keep its secrets? Maybe not much longer. Indeed, researchers have just discovered, hidden under the ice, an immense lake which could help them rewrite the history of this continent which has not always been white.
How did they get there? After three years of systematic surveys with a rader capable of penetrating the ice. And withwhich measure minute changes in and . Because unlike ice, water reflects radar like a . Gravity and magnetic data shed light on the region’s underlying geology and water and sediment depth.
The lake — nearly 50 kilometers long, 15 kilometers wide and 200 meters deep — was named snow eagle — like one of the planes that was used to discover it. It lies somewhere under more than three kilometers of East Antarctic ice in a canyon nearly two kilometers deep, on what is known as Princess Elizabeth Land, discovered in 1931, a few hundred kilometers from the coast.
Secrets buried in the sediment
And it is precisely this proximity to the coast that makes this lake even more interesting toresearchers. They believe it could be hiding crucial information about how the East Antarctic Ice Sheet began to form. On the role played by this ring of cold water that surrounds the continent and that scientists believe is responsible for the cold that reigns there.
The researchers report that at the bottom of the lake await them some 300 meters of sediment which could include river sediments older than the ice sheet itself. Thus, they hope to obtain valuable information on the history of Antarctica by drilling the region. On its history, but also on its future in the context of global warming that we are experiencing today.
“This lake is likely to have kept a record of the whole history of the ice sheet of the. Our observations already suggest that the ice sheet changed significantly around 10,000 years ago, although we don’t know why.” To be continued…. From its birth, more than 34 million years ago. As well as its growth and evolution through glacial cycles since thenenthuses Don Blankenship, a researcher at the University of Texas, in a