Lake Whillans is a strange body of water because there is no liquid to fill it. Its temperatures climb to just shy of zero degrees Celsius thanks to a combination of heat from the earth and a thick blanket of ice protecting it from the polar air. It's warm enough to keep the lake's watery water. Lake Whillans is filled with life. A decade ago, a survey found thousands of different types of organisms that were 888-609- 888-609- 888-609- 888-609- 888-609-

The remote stretch of ice above Lake Whillans has a different mystery in mind, as evidenced by the recent arrival of a seismologist from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The plumbing below the glacier was thought to be much deeper than they could see. If the water beneath the lake was to be found, it would have implications for how the ice up above moves and how quickly it might contribute to rising seas. They couldn't prove what was there. It was too deep and covered in ice to use the traditional tools of glaciology, like bouncing radar signals off the ice or setting off explosives.

The schematic of the watery world underneath the ice was published in a study in the journal Science. 10 times as much water can be found in a vast repository of underground water that is more than a kilometer below Lake Whillans. The researchers used a technique called magnetotellurics, or MT, which harnesses natural variations in Earth's electromagnetic field to sketch out a broad picture of the sediment below. The ice streams that account for about 90 percent of the ice making its way from the continent's interior to the ocean are believed to be underpinned by similar groundwater systems.

Subglacial water plays a role in the movement of ice above it. ruts and planes on the terrain are created by how it alters the sediment below. lubricating the ground allows the ice to slide more quickly. A group of researchers reported in January that the so-called Doomsday Glacier, which holds back enough ice to raise global sea levels by 2 feet, could collapse within five years.

Those models are incomplete if there is no water. Slawek Tulaczyk, a professor of earth sciences at UC Santa Cruz who studies the region but wasn't involved in the research, said that researchers had long observed that more water was spilling out from underneath the Whillans ice stream than expected. This was not normal. As ice sheets approach the ocean, they tend to get thinner and less good at protecting the ground from the cold. The water should freeze at these edges. He says that that wasn't what they were seeing. The researchers theorize that half of the water must be coming from unmapped sources underground.

The team set out to map it. At the foot of the Transantarctic peaks lies the ice above Lake Whillans. The area gained favor with scientists because of the mountains. It was the longest, most tiring camping trip of my life. The researchers dug up the instruments and moved them to the next site two kilometers away.