A group of scientists, including Kennicutt, who also serves as an adviser to the National Science Foundation, the agency that funds and oversees all U.S. science in Antarctica, will meet in Big Sky, Mont., this week to discuss research procedures for studying sub-ice environments. The meeting closely follows the release of a report by the National Academies on environmental issues related to sub-ice exploration that provides guidance for future lake penetration.
Scientists from the countries involved, which include the U.S., France, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and others, have concluded that lake entry and sampling will ultimately be necessary to accomplish the ambitious research objectives, Kennicutt notes.
How to do this in the best way to preserve these environments and to be least invasive is a key question that needs further discussion, he notes.
The countries involved have all agreed we must do as much as possible to avoid altering the lakes or causing any environmental damage.
Research in Antarctica has always had a special set of rules among nations.
It is the only continent on Earth that is managed through an international treaty signed by 45 countries representing two-thirds of the worlds population. By unanimous consent of these nations, Antarctica has been viewed as a continent for science, research and peace.
The Department of State coordinates U.S. policy on Antarctica and works closely with the National Science Foundation, which administers and manages the U.S. Antarctic Program. Kennicutt also assists the NSFs Office of Polar Program.
We are probably 3-5 years away from conducting U.S. research on these underground lakes, Kennicutt believes.
We believe these lakes may exert important controls on large ice sheet movement and that they are just like
Contact: Keith Randall
Texas A&M University