An international group of scientists are heading to Antarctica to take a closer look at a mysterious marine ecosystem that has recently surfaced after the calving of massive glacier. Researchers believe the ecosystem had been locked in ice for 120,000 years.
The glacier, which is four times larger than London, parted ways with the Larsen ice shelf last summer. Researchers plan to gather samples from a seabed that has been hidden under the sea shelf for thousands of years.
The team underlined that they are running out of time, as the ecosystem could change as soon as the sun reaches the upper layers of the sea.
The team leaves the U.K. on Feb. 21 and plan to spend three full weeks in the Antarctic on board of a ship called RRS James Clark Ross. Researchers will be able to tap satellite data to see where their ship is located and be able to reach their destination.
An ‘Exciting’ Mission
Dr Katrin Linse, who is leading the mission, explained that the glacier that kept the ecosystem hidden for so many years, the A-68, offered her team a “unique opportunity” to analyze marine life as it is changing when exposed to environmental factors like sunlight and other species.
The 9-man team comprises experts in many fields, so they can acquire as much info as they can in a short period of time. “It’s very exciting,” Linse said.
Researchers will collect samples from the new seabed, germs, marine animals, sediments, water, and plankton. They will use video cameras to film the entire endeavor. Marine animals will be collected from the seabed with a special sledge.
The team hopes to obtain a snapshot of the life beneath the ice shelf before it changes irreversibly.
While researchers are getting ready for their mission independent teams are keeping an eye on the Larsen C ice shelf, to predict future calving events and its future stability.
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