088 Hidden Under the Ice: Lake Vostok

18 . 02 . 2020

Contributors


Henry Páll Wulff
Expedition Guide, Naturalist
Chris Marquardt
Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Henry Páll Wulff

Expedition Guide, Naturalist

Chris Marquardt

Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Notes

Deep, dark and mysterious, Lake Vostok is one of the largest subglacial lakes in the world. Once a large surface lake in East Antarctica, Lake Vostok is now buried under more than 3.7 kilometers (2.4 miles) of ice near Russia's Vostok research station. Covered with ice for millennia, cut off from light and contact with the atmosphere, Lake Vostok is one of the most extreme environments on Earth. The lake has been ice-covered for at least 15 million years. Lake Vostok is one of the largest lakes on Earth in size and volume, rivaling Lake Ontario in North America. The lake itself is 230 km (143 miles) long, 50 km (31 miles) wide and as much as 800 meters (2,625 feet) deep. Lake Vostok sits near the South Pole in East Antarctica. The presence of a large buried lake was first suggested in the 1960s by a Russian geographer/pilot who noticed the large, smooth patch of ice above the lake from the air. Airborne radar experiments by British and Russian researchers in 1996 confirmed the discovery of the unusual lake. Lake Vostok harbors a unique ecosystem based on chemicals in rocks instead of sunlight, living in isolation for hundreds of thousands of years. The types of organisms the scientists found suggested they derived their energy from minerals present in the lake and sources from the underlying bedrock. Life in Lake Vostok doesn’t just exist — it thrives. Over 3500 different species have been identified, including a whole group of totally novel organisms. Lake Vostok is one of the easiest subglacial lakes to detect due to its size, yet most of its secrets remain.

087 Magical Diamond Dust

11 . 02 . 2020

Contributors


Henry Páll Wulff
Expedition Guide, Naturalist
Chris Marquardt
Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Henry Páll Wulff

Expedition Guide, Naturalist

Chris Marquardt

Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Notes

While Antarctica is considered one of the most inhospitable places in the world by its ice and harsh conditions, the low temperatures on the ground provide some of the most breathtaking weather phenomena. Names like Brockenspectre, Green Flash or Halo arouse curiosity, but really exciting is the magic sounding diamond dust. Although there are low levels of precipitation in Antarctica, meteorological wonders abound and diamond dust is one of them! The air temperature in Antarctica is often low enough for water vapour to condense directly out of the atmosphere and form tiny ice crystals which then fall. On a sunny day these catch the sunlight and shine like a sprinkling of diamonds in the sky, hence the name diamond dust. If the crystals are orientated in exactly the right way they can give rise to brilliant halos. Diamond dust is also responsible for beautiful optical phenomena like sun dogs, halos and light pillars. CP 061 Ice and Flames: Those Mysterious Arctic Volcanos. Throwing hot water in the air

086 A Sheer Incredible Piece of Ice

04 . 02 . 2020

Contributors


Henry Páll Wulff
Expedition Guide, Naturalist
Chris Marquardt
Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Henry Páll Wulff

Expedition Guide, Naturalist

Chris Marquardt

Photographer, Author, Podcaster, Traveler, Educator

Notes

The single biggest mass of ice in the world, containing about 90 percent of the planet's freshwater ice and around 60-70 percent of the total freshwater on earth, covers about 98 percent of the Antarctic continent. But the continent is divided: In East Antarctica, the ice sheet rests on a major landmass, while in West Antarctica the bed can extend to more than 2,500 m below sea level. While the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is relatively stable, scientists claim that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt, it would raise global sea levels by about 5 meters/16 feet. At the same time, the landmass of Antarctica would rise out of the ocean. Several ice shelves surround especially the western Antarctic. The Ross Ice Shelf - a floating tongue of ice that extends off the continent's main landmass - encompasses more than 510,000 square kilometers and is the largest ice shelf that has ever been discovered. All in all, one can say that the largely unknown seventh continent deep in the south is truly a sheer incredible piece of ice.

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