A lake has lain buried beneath a two-mile layer of Antarctic ice for 16 million years. Russian researchers are preparing to crack its secrets. Considering its age they believe that its lessons could be crucial in deciphering climate change, developing new medicines and understanding how life might evolve on other worlds. Antarctica’s buried lakes were first discovered a decade ago by satellites and aircraft with powerful radar devices. Previously it was thought the continent was too cold for water to exist in liquid form beneath its ice sheets.
Research suggests the lake was formed when ice started to build up on the Antarctic mainland around 16 million years ago. It was then; the continent was affected by, as yet poorly understood, climate changes. It is now realized that this ice acts as an insulating blanket which traps heat from the Earth’s core, melting the base of the ice sheet. ‘We now know there are more than 100 lakes like Lake Vostok in the Antarctic,’ said Martin Siegert, professor of geography at Bristol University. ‘However, Vostok is the oldest, biggest and most important.’
Via: The Guardian