Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unlocking Antarctica’s secrets

08.10.2007
A Northumbria University lecturer is one of a team of scientists on a mission to explore one of the last unchartered corners of the Earth – a subglacial lake in Antarctica.

Glaciologist Dr John Woodward, together with experts from the British Antarctic Survey and Edinburgh University, will spend five months working in sub zero conditions above Lake Ellsworth - a lake buried beneath 3.4km of ice.

The lake represents an extreme, untouched and unknown habitat.

Dr Woodward said: “Scientists would love to know what is living in these lake environments, and what this might tell us about possible life in extraterrestrial environments such as the frozen moons of Jupiter.”

The £600,000 project has been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The British Antarctic Survey will be providing the logistic support necessary to conduct the research in one of the most remote areas of Antarctica.

The researchers will spend much of their time trying to identify the optimal site from which to access subglacial lake Ellsworth. Dr Woodward will undertake a seismic survey. The seismic technique uses high explosives to generate a controlled noise source. Sound waves from the explosive shot travel through the ice and are reflected from the ice-water interface (the surface of the lake). Some waves will travel through the water and will then be reflected from the water-bed interface. The echoes that return to the surface are recorded by a series of highly sensitive microphones that are attached to a computer that will allow the depth of the lake to be mapped.

Once the seismic survey has been carried out, the researchers hope to attract more funding to allow them to use a hot-water drill to bore through the ice and access the lake. A slimline robot will then be lowered into the depths, which will carry sensors to detect life and collect sediment samples.

Dr Woodward, 35, of Witton Gilbert in Co. Durham, is a Senior Lecturer in Geography in the School of Applied Sciences at Northumbria University. Prior to this he worked as a researcher for the British Antarctic Survey.

Dr Woodward admitted: “There is competition to be the first team to explore a subglacial lake. A team from Italy would like to explore Lake Concordia and a team from Russia plans to extract water from Lake Vostok, the largest subglacial lake identified. It is vitally important to identify suitable drill sites, and then to plan to conduct the access experiments in an environmentally friendly way so as not to risk contaminating such pristine and isolated environments’’

More than 150 subglacial lakes have been identified in Antarctica, cut off from the outside world by thick caps of ice for tens or even hundreds of thousands of years. Any life forms will have had to adapt to complete darkness, very few nutrients, crushing water pressures and isolation from the atmosphere.

Katrina Alnikizil | alfa
Further information:
http://www.northumbria.ac.uk

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists discover Earth's youngest banded iron formation in western China
12.07.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Drones survey African wildlife
11.07.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>