01:09 GMT07 July 2020
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    In 2014, researchers made a groundbreaking discovery finding almost 4,000 microbial species living in the waters of Lake Whillans. Just recently they returned hoping to study the lake as it could possibly answer questions about life in other parts of the world and maybe the universe.

    Scientists from Michigan Technological University (MTU) have examined the underworld of subglacial Lake Whillans, which looked like an alien planet. In their study published in the journal Global Biochemical Cycles, they revealed that the lake has a surprising amount of organic carbon, a vital source of food for microbes in Antarctica.

    Researchers discovered that a pool of dissolved carbon can form in the lake in 4.8 to 11.9 years. As the lake fills and drains, nutrients and organic carbon travel underwater to the Southern Ocean.

    "There's no photosynthesis under the ice in the ocean downstream of this lake This limits the available food and energy sources in a way that you wouldn't find in a surface lake or the open ocean. The idea is that these subglacial lakes that are upstream could provide important sources of energy and nutrients for things living in the ice-covered regions of the Southern Ocean", said Trista Vick-Majors, assistant professor of Biological Sciences at MTU and lead author of the study.

    Researchers from MTU used a special hot water drill to get through almost one kilometre of ice and then took samples of water and even sent down a camera

    ​Vick-Majors said that the study of subglacial lakes will provide insight into how life starts in other parts of the world.

    "There is water and there is life under the ice. These can teach us a lot about our planet because this is a great place to look at somewhat simplified ecosystems, without higher levels of organisms. So we can answer questions about life that can be really hard to answer in other places", Vick-Majors said.
    Tags:
    life, Southern Ocean, Antarctic
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