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Rivers flow under Antarctic ice

British researchers who discovered the plumbing system that moves water hundreds of miles said it challenges the notion that the lakes under the Antarctic ice evolved independently and could support ancient life.

india Updated: Apr 25, 2006 12:05 IST
Reuters
Reuters
None

Rivers as big as the Thames in England that may connect sub-glacial lakes have been found deep under the Antarctic ice, scientists have said.

British researchers who discovered the plumbing system that moves water hundreds of miles said it challenges the notion that the lakes under the Antarctic ice evolved independently and could support ancient life.

"Earlier, it was thought that water moves underneath the ice by very slow seepage," said Professor Duncan Wingham of University College London (UCL) who headed the research team.

 SMART BOX
 Flowing facts

• Plumbing system moves the

  water for miles

• Data shows lakes beneath the

  ice pop off like champagne

  corks, releasing floods

• Water from Antarctic lakes

  could have flowed into the

  ocean, can happen again


Scientists had plans to drill to take samples from the lakes but were worried about contaminating them with new microbes. "We had thought of these lakes as isolated biological laboratories. Now we are going to have to think again," Wingham added.



The research has been published in the journal Nature. About 150 sub-glacial lakes have been discovered in Antarctica. Lake Vostok, at 15-20 million years old, is thought to be the oldest.

First Published: Apr 25, 2006 10:20 IST