lake buried under two miles of ice can help to research on climate change
an ancient lake hidden well beneath the ice sheet of West Antarctica could reveal vital clues on climate change, rising sea levels and to discover new ways of living , according to a group of British engineers and scientists.
This month, a team of British engineers will visit one of the most remote environments on Earth and hostile - Lake Ellsworth, which is buried under two miles (3 km) ice - in the first stage of a project cost of more than 7 million pounds.
The ice covering the lake geothermal heat trapped in the soil, preventing freezing. The team will prepare for the drilling operation next November challenging to collect water samples and sediments of the lake bottom, which will help scientists assess the stability of the ice sheet of Antarctica West and the possible increase in sea levels.
"If we can know if or when the ice has retreated or collapsed, one could say what kind of conditions that lead to a withdrawal from the West Antarctic in the future," said Mike Bentley, a glacial geologist at Durham University, told reporters at a conference Monday.
"Finding life on a lake that could have been isolated from the rest of the biosphere up to half a million years tell us much about the origin of the potentials and limits of life on Earth and may provide clues to the evolution of life on other extraterrestrial environments, "said David Pearce, coordinator of science at the British Antarctic Survey. "If we find something (s) will be even more important because it defines the limits within which life can exist on the planet."
However, some experts fear that, without touching penetrate environments that may change forever. To avoid contamination, the probe program water from Lake Ellsworth and drilling hot water using clean technologies from space science, the team said.
The project, funded primarily by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, hopes to be the first to take samples and measurements of the 387 Antarctic subglacial lakes known. Other research teams have been competing to enter lakes, after satellite data in the hidden networks of the 1990s discovered in Antarctica.
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