Antarctica is an icy place as the facts suggest that only one percent of the total land in that region is exposed. During the time of glacial periods, the ice expanded to the extent that ice sheets were spread onto the ocean. The place is relentlessly cold but life exists on Antarctica. When scientists say life, they don't mean microbial; but insects and worms too.
How did they manage to stay alive in such icy conditions? Well, an Australian scientist Ceridwen Fraser says volcanoes could be the reason.
To understand the story of how Fraser discovered life at such a place, we'll have to understand another research, which is being carried out by Edinburgh University. It has revealed that there are more than 90 volcanoes beneath ice sheets of Antarctica.
Have a look!
Scientists and researchers have discovered largest volcanic region on Earth, and that too, 2 kilometres below the ice sheet in Antarctica. Most of them are active.
The project which has been undertaken by researchers of Edinburgh University reveals that there are atleast 91 volcanoes in Antarctica (or more). All of them are upto 4,000 metres tall.
The gigantic volcanoes found below Antarctic region make east Africa's volcanic ridge look like a dwarf. East Africa's volcanoes are known as densest and most concentrated volcanoes in the world.
Scientists reveal that if these volcanoes ever erupt, they're not going to be witnessed by the world as it's almost impossible for them to penetrate 2-kilometres thick surface of ice above them. But it will melt the ice from beneath and unsettle the base.
Scientists have already warned that these eruptions could lead to worrying consequences.
Glacier expert Robert Bingham says, "If one of these volcanoes were to erupt it could further destabilise west Antarctica's ice sheets."
"Anything that causes the melting of ice – which an eruption certainly would – is likely to speed up the flow of ice into the sea," says one of the authors of the research paper.
"It's an alarming trend. The most volcanism that is going in the world at present is in regions that have only recently lost their glacier covering, after the end of the last ice age. These places include Iceland and Alaska."
He adds, "Theory suggests that this is occurring because, without ice sheets on top of them, there is a release of pressure on the regions' volcanoes and they become more active."
No doubt, this can happen in west Antarctica as the significant warming of the region caused by rise in temperature due to air pollution and global warming has begun to affect the ice sheets.
After the discovery of volcanic region, some scientists have also found warm caves in the area, which reveal that there could be the possibility of life.
A surprising discovery has been made by Australian scientists. The researchers found a cave which was warm as the active volcano called Mount Erebus on Ross Island erupted recently. The place is adequately warm to support life.
Considering the fact how icy the region is, it is astonishing to find a place which is as warm as the room temperature. According to scientists, one can wear a T-shirt in that place and be comfortable.
The scientists have also discovered DNAs in the caves, which look similar to the species that exist in that region.
Scientist Fraser said, "The results from this study give us a tantalising glimpse of what might lie beneath the ice in Antarctica – there might even be new species of animals and plants."
That's all, folks!