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Scientists may have discovered massive lake under Antarctic

Massive lake may have been found by scientists. See where

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Friday, April 29, 2016, 11:44 AM - A team of scientists may have discovered a massive lake under Antarctica's ice.

Measuring at around 100 km long by 10 km wide, the ribbon-shaped lake is said to be connected to a canyon system that is over 1,000 km long that stretches towards the eastern coast of Antarctica on Princess Elizabeth Land.

These findings were published recently in the journal Geology and scientists presented the information at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna last week.

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The discovery could also reveal unique life forms locked under ice for millions of years.

Satellite imagery shows similar grooves on the ice surface to that of known subglacial lakes and channels.

Image courtesy: The Grantham Institute, Imperial College - London, England

There are two channels in particular that appear to turn upwards into the ice, which may transfer water out of the West Ice Shelf and into the ocean.

"It's the last un-researched part of Antarctica, so it's very exciting news, but it's still tentative pending full confirmation," Bryn Hubbard of the University of Aberystwyth told New Scientists.

Researchers from China and the United States have recently flown over the region to collect ice penetrating radar data, which will likely confirm the features that lie beneath. The team of scientists plan to meet in May to analyze the data.

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A much larger lake was found under the frozen cap of the Antarctic in the 1990s. Lake Vostok has been encased in ice for millions of years and measures 240 km by 60 km. However, the newly discovered lake is much more accessible. It is only 100 km away from the nearest research base, which will make it easier for researchers to conduct investigations into the biology of the lake.

"It's really nice to see some new techniques for revealing the characteristics of the last 'pole of ignorance'," Christine Dow, of the NASA Goddard Space Fight Center told New Scientist. "The potential discovery of large canyons and lakes could have a big impact on our understanding of tectonic and hydrological evolution in this part of the ice sheet."

Last December, melting permafrost brought about by climate change finally pushed a small lake in the Northwest Territories over the edge of a cliff. Experts had been waiting for the imminent demise of the lake for months.

SOURCE: New Scientist | CBC | Study

Watch more: Mystery of Antarctica's 'blood falls' explained

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