Antarctic lake could host life, scientists say

Antarctic lake could host life, scientists sayA lake found underneath the icy surface of Antarctica just might be capable of harboring life, according to a new British study.

The researchers believe that the 87 x 12-mile lake is connected to a 680-mile canyon system, and may host some life forms that have quietly existed for thousands of years. They came up with this conclusion after spotting slight grooves in the ice based on satellite images of the underground lake, which is located in Prince Elizabeth Land in Antarctica.

“We’ve seen these strange, linear channels on the surface, and are inferring these are above massive, 1000-kilometer-long channels, and there’s a relatively large subglacial lake there too,” said researcher Martin Siegert of Imperial College London. He noted that scientists from other countries, including the United States and China, have gathered some information via radar that may confirm that there is indeed some life in that lake. Siegert will meet with those researchers in May to confirm those findings.

The theory was first mooted in January 2016, and those initial findings were published that month in the journal Geology.

“Our analysis provides the first evidence that a huge canyon and a possible lake are present beneath the ice in Princess Elizabeth Land,” said lead author Stewart Jamieson of Durham University in England at that time. “This is a region of the Earth that is bigger than the UK and yet we still know little about what lies beneath the ice.”

Though the new lake is quite a large one, it still won’t be the biggest lake found underneath the ice cap of Antarctica. The largest lake on the continent is Lake Vostok, which has measurements of 160 x 30 miles, good enough to make it the sixth largest lake in America, had it been located there.