Hidden ecosystem discovered under the ice of Antarctica
(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) used a hot water hose to cut through about 500 meters of the Larsen Ice Shelf. As a result, they fell into an underground river.
When the team lowered their cameras into the water, they were stunned to see swarms of small “amphipods” about 5mm in size.
“Having all these creatures floating around our equipment means that there is clearly an important ecosystem that we are going to explore in the future,” said NIWA physical oceanographer Craig Stevens.
Researchers were already aware of a network of hidden freshwater lakes and rivers running under the Antarctic ice sheets, but they had not yet been explored.
The team of scientists will leave the instruments in place to collect more information in the coming months and years.
Another surprise awaited the team in the form of a “pipe” of melt water, through which the river flowed.
“The meltwater pipe had a strange structure and was quite narrow, with a lot of undulations,” Stevens said.
“It was like a loaf of bread, with a bulge at the top and a narrow slope at the bottom.
The water inside consisted of four or five different layers, flowing in different directions.”
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