Scientists discover a LAKE the size of a city under Antarctica

Scientists studying the underside of the world’s largest ice sheet in Antarctica have discovered a lake the size of a city.

The lake, called Lake Snow Eagle, is located in a mile-deep canyon in the highlands of Princess Elizabeth Land in Antarctica, a few hundred miles from the coast.

The lake area is approximately 370 square km, or 142 square miles (30 miles long, 9 miles wide, and 650 feet deep), roughly the same as the city of Philadelphia.

It is located beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is one of the two great ice sheets in Antarctica and the largest ice sheet on the entire planet.

According to scientists, the sediments in Lake Snow Eagle could hold a history of the East Antarctic ice sheet from its earliest beginnings.

The coast of Princess Elizabeth of Antarctica, near the point where the ice sheet meets the sea. The newly discovered Snow Eagle Lake lay a few hundred miles inland, under the same ice sheet

Lake Snow Eagle is located in a mile-deep canyon in the highlands of Princess Elizabeth Land, Antarctica, a few hundred miles from the coast

Lake Snow Eagle is located in a mile-deep canyon in the highlands of Princess Elizabeth Land, Antarctica, a few hundred miles from the coast

WHAT IS AN ICE PLATE?

An ice sheet is a mass of glacial land ice that spans more than 20,000 square miles (50,000 square kilometers).

The two ice caps on Earth today cover most of Greenland and Antarctica.

During the last ice age, ice sheets also covered much of North America and Scandinavia.

Together, the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets contain more than 99 percent of the freshwater ice on Earth.

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center

They could reveal what Antarctica was like before freezing, how climate change affected it, and how the ice sheet could change as the world warms.

Snow Eagle Lake, which is covered in two miles of ice, was revealed by an aircraft equipped with ice-penetrating radar, which sends out radio waves and calculates how long it takes for them to reflect.

“This lake is likely to have documentation of the entire history of the East Antarctic ice sheet, its initiation over 34 million years ago, as well as its growth and evolution through glacial cycles since then,” said the author. by Don Blankenship at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Our observations also suggest that the ice sheet changed significantly around 10,000 years ago, although we have no idea why.”

The first sign of the lake’s existence was when scientists spotted a uniform depression on satellite images of the ice sheet.

To confirm it was there, they spent three years in-flight surveying the site with ice-penetrating radar and sensors that measure the slightest changes in Earth’s gravity and magnetic field. Unlike ice, water reflects radar like a mirror.

“I literally jumped out when I first saw that bright radar reflection,” said lead author Shuai Yan, also of the University of Texas at Austin.

A smooth depression captured in a radar satellite image of East Antarctica has set a team of scientists led by the University of Texas at Austin on the road to finding an unknown lake covered in miles of ice. The profile of the lake is marked

A smooth depression captured in a radar satellite image of East Antarctica has set a team of scientists led by the University of Texas at Austin on the road to finding an unknown lake covered in miles of ice. The profile of the lake is marked

Scientists with one of the planes used to detect the ice sheet in 2019. Shuai Yan (fourth from right), a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, used the survey data to locate and characterize Lake Snow Eagle

Scientists with one of the planes used to detect the ice sheet in 2019. Shuai Yan (fourth from right), a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, used the survey data to locate and characterize Lake Snow Eagle

Because it is located relatively close to the coast, researchers think Lake Snow Eagle may hold information on how the East Antarctic ice sheet began.

Sediments on the lake floor are 1,000 feet deep and may include river sediments older than the ice sheet itself.

“This lake has been accumulating sediment for a long time, potentially taking us from the time when Antarctica had no ice at all, until it went freezing,” said co-author Martin Siegert, a glaciologist at Imperial College London.

“We don’t have a single record of all those events in one place, but the sediments at the bottom of this lake might be ideal.”

Obtaining a sample of the lake’s sediments by drilling it could provide vital information on the possible disappearance of the ice sheet due to climate change.

Lake Snow Eagle, named after one of the planes used for its discovery, is one of the many features discovered by ICECAP-2, an international collaboration.

ICECAP-2 aims to map the last unknown regions of East Antarctica by polar research groups from the United States, United Kingdom, China, Australia, Brazil and India.

The study was published today in the journal geology.

SCIENTISTS FIND FUNDAMENTAL WATERS IN DEEP SEDIMENTS UNDER ANTARCTIC ICE

For the first time, scientists have found a huge groundwater system under the ice in Antarctica.

The groundwater reservoir is located beneath the Whillans Ice Stream in West Antarctica, experts in the United States say.

Groundwater is fresh water (from rain or from melting ice and snow) that absorbs the soil and is stored in the tiny spaces (pores) between rocks and soil particles.

Such groundwater systems are likely common in Antarctica and affect how the continent reacts climate change – although researchers don’t know exactly how.

According to the team, groundwater may exist under similar conditions on other planets or moons that are releasing heat from their interiors.

Read more: Scientists find groundwater in sediments deep under the Antarctic ice