In add-on to novel observations close how Antarctica’s H2O ice sheets are affected past times rise temperatures, the expedition also uncovered a unique ecosystem of fish as well as invertebrates living inwards an estuary deep beneath the Antarctic ice.
“UNL squad members ane time once again demonstrated their engineering scientific discipline as well as operational expertise past times providing construct clean access to a challenging, unexplored sub-ice environment,” said Frank Rack, executive manager of the ANDRILL (Antarctic Drilling Project) Science Management Office as well as UNL’s principal investigator for the project.
The latest discoveries come upwards inwards the concluding yr of the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project. The projection was delayed in conclusion yr because of the USA federal authorities shutdown inwards Oct 2013, the start of Antarctica’s summertime champaign query season. After they move out Antarctica at the destination of January, most of the drillers volition live set off until a novel query projection as well as additional funding are identified.
Earlier this month, a National Science Foundation-funded squad of researchers bored through nearly 740 meters of H2O ice at a dot where the Whillans Ice Stream oozes off the coastline of West Antarctica to feed into the Ross Ice Shelf, a slab of glacial H2O ice the size of Texas that floats on the Ross Sea.
It was scientists’ kickoff expect at what’s known equally the grounding zone, where the H2O ice shelf meets the sea floor.
“This flavor nosotros accessed some other critical polar environment, which has never been remove sampled past times scientists before: the grounding zone of the Antarctic H2O ice sheet,” said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as well as a principal scientist on the project.
Working closed to the clock, to a greater extent than than forty scientists, technicians as well as campsite staff from the WISSARD projection gathered equally many samples as well as equally much information equally they could piece the borehole remained open.
On Jan. 16, 8 days afterwards piercing the ice, the UNL squad deployed “Deep SCINI,” a remotely operated vehicle or ROV, to explore the marine cavity closed to the borehole.
The camera-equipped vehicle detected a multifariousness of fish as well as invertebrates inwards an ecosystem that may supply novel insights into how creatures live on as well as thrive inwards a brutally mutual frigidness as well as nighttime environment.
It was the kickoff deployment of Deep SCINI, a image ROV developed at UNL for combined H2O ice as well as H2O depths of greater than 1,000 meters. It was built past times Bob Zook, an ROV engineer recruited past times UNL, as well as Justin Burnett, a UNL graduate pupil inwards mechanical engineering. UNL received grant funding from the NSF as well as NASA to prepare Deep SCINI as well as other engineering used inwards the expedition.
Other members of UNL’s squad are: Dennis Duling, Pb driller; Daren Blythe, Dar Gibson, Jeff Lemery, Graham Roberts as well as James Roth.
“This is the kickoff fourth dimension that Deep-SCINI ROV has been used inwards the champaign as well as it passed this exam alongside flight colors,” Rack said, “collecting video of fish living nether the H2O ice shelf inwards this extremely hostile environs far from the front end of the H2O ice shelf.”
In previous expeditions, the UNL squad drilled through the Ross Ice Shelf inwards 2010, discovering a previously unknown species of sea anemone that lives inwards the ice; as well as equally purpose of the WISSARD projection inwards 2012-13, used the hot H2O drill arrangement to cleanly access a subglacial lake located close lx miles inland from the grounding zone.
Rack as well as 8 drillers were flown to the grounding zone site past times ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft on Dec. 28. They needed fourth dimension to larn the drill gear upwards for functioning afterwards it had been stored for 2 Antarctic winters on snowfall berms close Subglacial Lake Whillans, site of the 2012-13 project. Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 traverse squad of tractors as well as drivers had moved the drill containers to the grounding zone as well as began setting upwards campsite earlier the UNL team’s arrival. Among other things, the UNL drillers needed to reinstall as well as exam sensors as well as network components that had been stored at McMurdo Station then they would non freeze.
Rack said the drill arrangement plant similar an industrial-scale water-treatment constitute on skis, which pumps filtered hot H2O at moderately high pressures of 500 to 800 pounds per foursquare inch through a hose that is equipped alongside a weighted drill caput as well as nozzle. It took close 3 days to drill through the ice, alongside the hose advancing tardily downward equally the nozzle as well as drill caput melted the ice.
Preliminary findings offering interesting clues close how climate alter mightiness ship on Antarctic ice, according to a recent study on the expedition published by Scientific American. Ross Powell, a glaciologist from Northern Illinois University as well as WISSARD principal scientist, pointed to a layer of pebbles strewn on the bottom of the seawater cavity. They seem to bring dropped from the H2O ice equally it melted as well as dot a fairly recent alter inwards the environment. They mightiness assist stair out how fast the H2O ice is melting as well as the stability of the H2O ice shelf. Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 weakening or collapse of the Ross Ice Shelf would allow glaciers to catamenia to a greater extent than speedily into the ocean, raising global sea level.