Scientists rush to explore underwater world hidden for 120,000 years

A huge, trillion-ton iceberg about the size of Delaware  broke free from Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf   in July 2017. Because it moved away from its chilly delivery mom and into the Weddell Ocean, a vast expanse of water noticed the light for the first time in up to 120, 000 years.

And this month, a group of scientists will venture towards the long-ice-buried expanse to investigate the strange ecosystem that was hidden beneath the Antarctic ice shelf for so long.

The recently exposed seabed stretches across a place of about 2, 246 square mls (5, 818 square kilometers), based on the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), that is leading the expedition. The researchers consider their journey “urgent, inch as they hope to document the system just before sunlight begins to change at least the top layers.  [ In Photos: Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf Through Time ]

“The calving of [iceberg] A-68 [from the Larsen C Ice Shelf] provides all of us with a unique opportunity to study marine creatures as it responds to a dramatic environment change. It’s important we get there rapidly before the undersea environment changes since sunlight enters the water and brand new species begin to colonize, ” Katrin Linse, of the British Antarctic Study, said in a statement.

What lies underneath?

Researchers know little about the possibly alien-like life that has taken up residence underneath Antarctica’s ice shelf. What they do understand comes from similar calving events in past times: Chunks of ice broke from the Larsen A and B racks (located north of Larsen Chemical on the Antarctic Peninsula) in 1995 and 2002, respectively. Two The german language expeditions to those “newly” exposed locations revealed sparse life. However , this took five to 12 many years for the expeditions to make it to those places, and by that time creatures from other places had made their way to each spots,   Live Science previously reported .

Consist of icy realms around Antarctica, a few bizarre creatures have turned up. For example, a bristled marine worm that will lives in the Southern Ocean, and  Live Technology previously reported   because looking like a “Christmas ornament through hell, ” has an extendable neck tipped with pointy teeth. And several creatures have made a living under severe conditions, including a crustacean called  Lyssianasid amphipod, which was found thriving   beneath the Ross Ice Shelf within western Antarctica. One of the more famous Antarctic animals, the icefish has organic antifreeze in its blood and entire body fluids, allowing it to survive the freezing temperatures of Earth’s chilly bottom level.

To learn the once-hidden ecosystem, the researchers — hailing from nine analysis institutes — will set off from your Falkland Islands on Feb. twenty one. They plan to spend three several weeks aboard the BAS research deliver, the RRS James Clark Ross. To navigate the ice-filled drinking water to the remote location, the deliver will rely on satellite data, based on the BAS.

Once they arrive, the team programs to collect samples of life (seafloor creatures, microbes, plankton and any other inhabitants) as well as sediments and water.

Stay tuned.

Initially published  upon Live Science .