We know that life exists in all of these lakes and we are trying to understand how it functions and how it relates to the climate, he said. Were interested in the impact of climate change and the effect it will have on these ecosystems. So we need to understand how it was affected in the past.
Maybe Blood Falls is just another lobe of Lake Bonney that has been frozen over, or maybe it was a different lake, like Bonney, that existed when the glacier had receded further up the valley.
Lyons said the answers to such questions would only come after drilling through the glacier to sample the bedrock below. He said that it is possible that these salt deposits might underlie this entire arm of the Taylor Glacier. If that were true, it would explain one of the glaciers strange behaviors.
Most Antarctic glaciers are frozen to the rock below but Taylor apparently isnt, Lyons said. That could be because there are salt deposits underneath it which would lower the freezing point of the ice and better lubricate the flow of the glacier. That probably allows this glacier to move in very different ways compared to others.
Along with Lyons, Kathleen Welch research scientist at the Byrd Center, Diane McKnight from the University of Colorado and John Priscu from Montana State University all contributed to this study. This work was supported in part by the Division of Polar Programs within the National Science Foundation and by the Byrd Polar Research Center.