Discovering Life Under Antarctica’s Ice


(atmospheric rock music) – These organisms are
beautiful and iconic. There are certain types that are present nowhere else on earth. So it’s very important to study them. My name is Drew Lohrer, and I’m the principal investigator
on Science Under the Ice. Science Under the Ice is what
we’ve been calling our project where we’ve been studying
the resilience of organisms, the sea floor organisms,
to climate-related changes. And we do science under
the ice, literally, by scuba diving under
frozen ocean in Antarctica. The most recent trip was to
Explorers Cove on New Harbor, which is in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Our team was nine
scientists and technicians and, of those, seven of
them were scientific divers that dived underneath the ice. We are about to commence
our dive operations for the morning/afternoon. On this trip, we went
diving underneath the ice to deploy a large-scale experiment involving incubation chambers that we deployed to the sea floor. We also surveyed the fauna
using standard survey techniques and we collected organisms
for isotopic analysis, so we can reconstruct food webs and how they’ve changed
since our previous trips. The water is -2 degrees Celsius. It’s very, very cold. And we have to dive
through ten feet of sea ice in order to access our study sites. Diving under the ice is quite surreal. It’s like diving in twilight
because the light is dim. It’s almost in some ways
like diving in outer space because of the vistas that you get towards the underside of the ice with the light coming through. And the clarity of the
water is, is unbelievable. It’s almost like you’re floating in air rather than floating in water. I think documenting what is down there now and how it’s changing over
time is really important. This year all of us were
struck by just how quickly things can change and it shows just how, there is essentially climate models that are predicting changes
in sea ice conditions. Science Under the Ice is pretty extreme. It’s hard to keep the heat up in the huts because the Sigma stoves
are not working that well. That being said, the divers
love diving under the ice because of the beauty
and the unique experience that it provides.

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