Antarctica’s Subglacial Lakes with Michael Studinger (Dec 2006)

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Polar Research

Remote sensing has revealed “Lake Vostok”, a body of water as large as some of the Great Lakes entirely hidden beneath 4 km of Antarctic ice. For the past few years, Michael Studinger has joined us to discuss how scientists can study the geology, hydrology, and biology of a region as inaccessible as this, and share new discoveries.

The 25 Jan 2006 Columbia Earth Institute News featured a news release about recent discoveries of two subglacial lakes made by Michael and Robin Bell — click here for this story.

For more information about Michael’s recent investigations, click on the “Cutting-Edge Research” icon.

Here are links to his previous E2C Workshops:

Introduction to this Workshop

View the introductory slide show presented by Dr. Passow (pdf)

Suggested Readings:

“Heath Earth Science” (Spaulding & Namowitz)
Glaciers: ch. 11

“Glencoe Earth Science”
Glaciers: Ch. 8

“Prentice Hall” (Tarbuck & Lutgens)
Glaciers: ch. 7

“Amsco” (McGuire)
Glaciers: ch. 14

Cutting-Edge Research

Dr. Michael Studinger’s LDEO web page

Studying Subglacial Lakes, Ice Sheet Dynamics and
Tectonics in Antarctica with Aerogeophysics

The polar regions play a critical role in Earth’s climatic and geodynamic systems.
Although located far from the main centers of human civilization, the polar atmosphere and oceans have strong global connections and therefore directly affect climate, landscape evolution, the global biosphere and human society. Over geologic time scales, Antarctic geodynamic processes are a major influence on ice sheet dynamics and global environmental change, which affects current and long-term, large-scale sea-level change.

My research at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University links solid Earth geophysics and glaciology, providing unique research opportunities.
I use integrated sets of aerogeophysical data, including gravity, magnetics, ice-penetrating radar, and laser altimeter measurements, to study physical processes linking tectonics, ice sheet dynamics and life in extreme environments, such as subglacial lakes.

Here are some links to research conducted by Michael and LDEO colleagues:

Subglacial Lake Vostok information and slide show

New Map Reveals Hidden Features of Ice-buried Antarctic Lake 
(NSF Press Release 04-091)

Lake Vostok Workshop Report (1998)

Other Research and Media links:

Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition Lake Vostok homepage

BBC The Lost World of Lake Vostok (2000)

Montana State University AAAS Presentation

National Geographic News “Does Life Exist in Antarctic Lake Buried Under Miles
of Ice?”

Science@NASA “Exotic Microbes Discovered near Lake Vostok” (1999)

Classroom Resources

History of IPY:
Links to IPY sponsors and other polar organizations:

“Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic”
Meet the Teachers:
TEA Classroom Activities:

“Inspire Antarctic Expeditions” — Robert Swan, OBE, 2041
Educational Resources — coming soon

NASA Quest: Putting Antarctica On the Map

Other Resources for This Topic

History of IPY:
Links to IPY sponsors and other polar organizations:

“Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic”
Meet the Teachers:
TEA Classroom Activities:
TEA Polar Links:

“A Tour of the Cryosphere: The Earth’s Frozen Assets”
8-minute DVD/web multimedia program about the polar regions,
with amazing imagery; close-captions available.

Robert Swan’s Leadership on the Edge 2041
Inspire Antarctic Expeditions:

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Antarctica: Lake Vostok

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Cryosphere Sciences Branch
The Cryospheric Sciences Branch is a branch of the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The mission of the Cryospheric Sciences Branch (CSB) is to increase our understanding of the ice cover.

NASA’s ICESat (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite)
ICESat (Ice, Cloud,and land Elevation Satellite) is the benchmark Earth Observing System mission for measuring ice sheet mass balance, cloud and aerosol heights, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics.

National Snow and Ice Data Center
Established by NOAA as a national information and referral center in support of polar and cryospheric research, NSIDC archives and distributes digital and analog snow and ice data.

“The Crysophere: Where the World Is Frozen”

NOAA Marine Modeling and Analysis Branch (MMAB) Sea Ice
The Polar and Great Lakes Ice group works on sea ice analysis from satellite, sea ice modeling, and ice-atmosphere-ocean coupling.

“Snowball Earth”:
Some 600 – 700 million years ago, according to some data, much of Earth was covered by ice. Here are selected links to online resources about this theory:

Integrating Educational Technologies

Who are our students? (Multiple Intelligences, Learning Styles) – We tend to teach the way we learn.

Activity: First, take the online learning styles tests to learn about yourself.

Discussion: Looking at the description of the learning styles in the links below, describe one activity you do or can do to make sure that type of learner has optimal learning conditions.