(ORDO NEWS) — In the view of the majority, Antarctica is an uninhabited continent, where there is nothing but animals, a huge amount of ice and snow, and a few scientific stations with seconded employees. In fact, Antarctica is much more complex than it might seem at first glance.
Under the ice of the fifth largest continent of the Earth, for example, more than 400 lakes have been discovered, but scientists have only reached four of them. They found three bacteria specific to this reservoir.
Now microbiologists and geneticists do not lose hope of discovering other forms of life in the subglacial Antarctic lake, which were not previously known to science.
Like, for example, WPS-2 and AD3 bacteria – they live in the soil with other organisms and do not need either solar or geothermal energy. With a very meager supply of nutrients, they literally switched to an “air diet”, which was a discovery for scientists.
But under-ice finds in Antarctica are not limited to lakes. Not so long ago, scientists discovered under the Thwaites Glacier a giant cavity with an area of about 40 square kilometers and a height of about 300 meters, which was formed when about 14 billion tons of ice melted.
For professionals, this is a wake-up call for a number of reasons. First, most of this ice has melted in the last three years. Secondly, such cavities significantly reduce the strength of icebergs. And this is fraught with an acceleration of their destruction and an increase in the level of the world ocean.
However, not all cavities under the ice are formed due to the melting of ice. The researchers also found craters, which, on the contrary, are filled with water, creating new subglacial lakes.
Their distinctive feature is only that they are not isolated from the oceans, and therefore can hardly be a habitat for life forms hitherto unknown to science and, from the point of view of discoveries, are not so interesting for researchers.
In addition to lakes and cavities, there are also active volcanoes in Antarctica (and a total of 91 volcanoes have been found on the continent) – for example, Mount Erebus on Ross Island, which, due to its volcanic activity, has created a fairly developed network of under-ice caves.
In these “caches” melted in ice by volcanic steam, scientists found several DNA sequences that did not match any known organisms.
This means that in these caves, species of plants or animals still unknown to science may exist. Moreover, the researchers are very optimistic and do not exclude the possibility of finding even unique ecosystems, and not just individual organisms.
Another mystery that the continent has thrown at scientists is the mysterious under-ice tremors that shake Antarctica every night. However, the secret did not last long.
After studying the unusual phenomenon, the researchers came to the conclusion that the ice surface is capable of creating small earthquakes, or rather even ice quakes.
The shocks recorded by seismographs allowed scientists to determine that the melting of ice and the surface movements caused by it manifest themselves in this way.
I must say that the discoveries listed above are only a small part of what scientists have learned about Antarctica in recent years. And one can only guess how many more secrets this mysterious continent keeps under its ice.
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