The landscape could be in upstate New York, western Maine, or any number of other scenic places: a few large lakes, many small ones, wide rivers and slow-flowing streams, water-filled hollows and soggy ground, all set in a stony land. But that’s where the resemblance to familiar landscapes ends. Here, no clouds float by, no rain falls, and no stars shine; there is no sunlight or moonshine, and no air at all. Instead, spread over this water-rich landscape, covering it almost completely and sealing it in, is 5 million square miles of glacial ice, roughly two miles thick and a million years old. This bizarre scene is found in Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth. If it were possible to lift up the giant ice sheets, that watery, stony terrain is what would remain. But of course it is not possible, so nobody knows what the buried landscape really looks like or how many living things may be down there. As of only a few decades ago, no one knew this world of buried lakes and rivers even existed. Now scientists are paying serious attention to it.
Journalists have dubbed it “the last unexplored place on Earth” and “one of Earth’s last frontiers.”
Kemo D. 7
Credit: Discover Magazine