Up to 5 million square kilometers under Antarctica may harbor life

(ORDO NEWS) — Despite Antarctica‘s unfavorable climate, scientists have discovered that under its icy surface there may be a “tremendous life force” that extends over millions of square kilometers.

Researchers have found that under the icy surface of Antarctica there can be something up to 5 million square kilometers.

Previously, scientists believed that algae in Antarctica appeared only in summer, since a thick layer of dense ice on the continent prevents the penetration of sunlight.

However, a new study by a team from Brown University in the US and the University of New Zealand in Auckland has shown that some of them may be permanently below the surface of the continent, reports Newsweek.

According to study leader Christopher Horvath, “The discovery of plants helps to disprove the paradigm that regions under sea ice are devoid of life and raises important new questions about what kind of living organisms can be under the ice in Antarctica.

We believe that they can cover up to 5 million square kilometers of subglacial space in the Southern Ocean.

A team of researchers came to similar conclusions using data collected from NASA‘s Earth observation satellites, as well as from buoys stationed in the ocean.

The sea ice of the Southern Ocean consists of layers of dense ice with small patches of water in between.

Scientists believe that these patches of water allow light to pass through even during the winter months, allowing the algae to photosynthesize all year round.

The ice itself is also thin enough to let light through – typically between 1 and 3 meters thick, explains marine biogeographer Hugh Griffiths of the British Antarctic Survey. However, life has been found even on the seafloor, where there is no light at all.


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