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800 meters beneath Antarctic ice sheet, subglacial lake holds viable microbial ecosystems

for the paper. The Baton Rouge native and graduate of the LSU Laboratory School earned a bachelor's of science from LSU in 2010 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in biological sciences.

Other co-authors include students and researchers from LSU; the University of Venice in Italy; the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; St. Olaf College in Minnesota; the University of Tennessee; and Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom.

NSF, which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program through its Division of Polar Programs, provided more than $10 million in grants as part of NSF's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or ARRA, portfolio to support the WISSARD science and development of related technologies.

NASA's Cryospheric Sciences Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, and the private Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation also provided support for the project.

The WISSARD team made scientific and engineering history in late January of 2013 when they used clean hot-water drilling technology to access subglacial Lake Whillans. This permitted the retrieval of pristine water and sediment samples that had been isolated from direct contact with the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

The interdisciplinary research team includes groups of experts in the following areas of science: life in icy environments, led by Priscu; glacial geology, led by Ross Powell, of Northern Illinois University; and glacial hydrology, led by Slawek Tulaczyk, of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Definitive evidence of life in subglacial lakes

The realization that a vast aquatic system of rivers and lakes that exists beneath the ice in Antarctica has spurred investigations to examine the effect on ice-sheet stability and the habitability of environments at the bed. The latest WISSARD announcement is the first to provide definitive evidence that a functional microbial ecosystem exists beneath the Antarctic ice s

Contact: Dawn Jenkins
Louisiana State University

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800 meters beneath Antarctic ice sheet, subglacial lake holds viable microbial ecosystems
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