Home Science Antarctica: How scientists made ‘unbelievable' discovery 10 feet below ice

Antarctica: How scientists made ‘unbelievable' discovery 10 feet below ice

The icy continent is home to around 1000 around-the-year researchers who probe the unspoilt terrain to learn more about the effects of climate change, sacrificing themselves to the blistering conditions. However, in October 2017, a team of scientists from New Zealand and Finland decided to embark on a new project known as “Science Under the Ice”. This involved weeks of camping and diving under thick sea ice, more than 10 feet in some places, at one of the world’s southernmost accessible dive sites.

Led by marine ecologist Dr Drew Lohrer, the aim of the expedition was to explore how climate change is affecting marine biodiversity along the Antarctic coastline. 

A year later, Dr Lehrer said: “Our project has been studying the resilience of organisms, seafloor organisms to climate-related changes.

“We do science under the ice, literally by scuba diving under the frozen ocean in Antarctica. 

“The most recent trip was to Explorers Cove on New Harbour, which is in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.

Antarctica scientists headed below the ice (Image: YOUTUBE/Aquarium of the Pacific)

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Dr Lehrer spoke at a lecture last year (Image: YOUTUBE/Aquarium of the Pacific)

Diving under the ice is quite surreal, it’s like diving in twilight because the light is dim

Dr Drew Lohrer

“Our team was nine scientists and technicians and, of those, seven of them are scientific divers that dived underneath the ice.”

Dr Lehrer went on to reveal the amazing experience the divers were witness to.

He added: “We are about to commence our dive operations for the morning/afternoon. 

“On this trip, we went diving underneath the ice to deploy a large-scale experiment involving incubation chambers that we deployed to the seafloor.

“We also surveyed the fauna using standard survey techniques and we collected organisms for isotopic analysis, so we can reconstruct food webs and how they’ve changed since our previous trips.

READ MORE: NASA’s surprising discovery hiding two miles below ice revealed

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The scientists camped out for weeks (Image: YOUTUBE/Aquarium of the Pacific)

“The water is -2C, so very, very cold and we have to dive through 10 feet of sea ice in order to access our study sites.

“Diving under the ice is quite surreal, it’s like diving in twilight because the light is dim, it’s almost in some ways like diving in outer space because of the vistas that you get towards the underside of the ice.”

Dr Lehrer concluded by explaining why the exercise is so vital.

He continued: “The clarity of the water is unbelievable, it’s almost like you’re floating in air, rather than floating in water. 

“I think documenting what is down there now and how it’s changing over time is really important.

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Dr Lehrer revealed how the scientists lived (Image: YOUTUBE/Aquarium of the Pacific)

Dr Lehrer revealed how the scientists lived (Image: YOUTUBE/Aquarium of the Pacific)

“This year all of us were struck by just how quickly things can change and it shows just how there is essentially climate models that are predicting changes in sea ice conditions.

“Science Under the Ice is pretty extreme, but divers love going under the ice because of the beauty and the unique experience that it provides.”

NASA too has been well invested in the frozen desert and made their own surprising discovery three years ago.

The Weddell Polynya, or Weddell Sea Polynya, is an irregular area of open water surrounded by sea ice in the Weddell Sea of the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica. 

This anomaly appeared every winter between 1974 and 1976, before disappearing into solid ice, seemingly forever. 

But, scientists were stunned when the Earth Observatory picked it up once again four decades later.

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