Many of the secrets locked within Antarctica’s vast, icy terrain may never be revealed, but scientists continue to explore. With a little help from satellite imagery, researchers have located a giant subterranean lake that is the second largest on the continent. Aside from its size, the most exciting thing about the newly discovered lake is its proximity to an existing research station. That makes it a lot easier to study than most of Antarctica’s 400 subglacial lakes.
Researchers from the U.K., China and the U.S. announced the discovery at the annual meeting of the European Geophysical Union (EGU) in Vienna this month. The newly discovered subglacial lake measures 62 miles long and over 6 miles wide, and is second only in size to Lake Vostok. Grooves spotted in satellite images tipped researchers off to the location of the subterranean lake, because they resemble the patterns observed at many of the previously discovered lakes.
“We’ve seen these strange, linear channels on the surface, and are inferring these are above massive, 1000-kilometre-long channels, and there’s a relatively large subglacial lake there too,” Martin Siegert, a member of the team that discovered the lake, told New Scientist.
Based on examinations of the satellite images, scientists say the ribbon-shaped lake appears to have long channels stemming from it, and may be connected to an adjacent canyon leading to the eastern coast of Antarctica, near the West Ice Shelf. The actual existence and size of the lake are still yet to be confirmed, and the team will meet next month for a deeper dive into the collected data. Unlike many of Antarctica’s other subglacial lakes, the new discovery is fairly close to an existing research station, so it will be easier to study for years to come.
Via IFL Science
Images via NASA