Beneath the mysterious polar ice lies many secrets that scientists are gradually beginning to uncover. Although the Arctic and Antarctica are on opposite poles of the Earth, their subglacial worlds are significantly different.
Antarctica, a huge continent in the Southern Hemisphere, is a massive mass of ice that hides an ancient rocky landscape. According to the National Science Foundation, the ice in Antarctica is about 2,160 meters thick. This means that beneath the ice sheet lies a huge land mass that has been frozen for millions of years. Researchers have drilled holes in the ice more than 2,000 meters deep, but much of its lower layers are still a mystery.
However, scientists have already been able to get some information about what lies beneath Antarctica’s ice. For example, they have discovered that beneath the Arctic Ocean is the historic Barents Island, which was covered by ice. They also found that there is a huge amount of algae and other marine organisms on the bottom of the ocean. Studies have shown that there is life under the Antarctic ice sheet that has adapted to the extreme conditions.
One project conducted by scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory explored the world beneath the Arctic ice. They sent cameras through the ice into the waters of the Arctic Ocean and collected video footage of the sea floor. These studies showed that beneath the Arctic Ocean is a muddy seafloor covered with a surprising amount of algae. Scientists also found isopods on the seafloor, about which they have limited knowledge.
These discoveries confirm that a variety of life exists beneath the polar ice that has adapted to the extreme conditions. This opens up new possibilities for studying life in unusual places and may give us insight into what forms of life may exist on other planets with icy surfaces.