NASA scientists have found organisms thriving beneath the ice
The new discovery by the NASA scientists is microscopic plantlike organisms, called Phytoplankton lying beneath the Acrtic ice, reports the Global Post.
The project is entitled ICESCAPE (Impacts of Climate on EcoSystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) took samples from underneath the ice on the Chukchi Sea continental shelf. The discovery of the organisms happened during an oceanographic expedition during the summers of 2012 and 2011
A press release issued by NASA about the new discovery states, “Scientists have made a biological discovery in Arctic Ocean waters as dramatic and unexpected as finding a rainforest in the middle of a desert.
The original NASA mission was to “validate [its] satellite ocean-observing data in an area of the Earth that is very difficult to get to.” But, the press release claims the new discovery by NASA will help researchers better understand the Arctic.
Originally, it was thought that Phytoplankton could only grown in the Arctic once ice had completely melted. But, the discovery of the Phytoplankton underneath the ice suggests that the thinning ice is letting light pass through, allowing organisms to grow.
The Phytoplankton was found from the sea-ice edge, “running 72 miles into the ice pack.”
Though, it is currently unclear how long the organisms have been under the Arctic ice.
“At this point we don’t know whether these rich phytoplankton blooms have been happening in the Arctic for a long time and we just haven’t observed them before,” Kevin Arrigo, of Stanford University, said. “These blooms could become more widespread in the future, however, if the Arctic sea ice cover continues to thin.”
The NASA new discovery may also have drastic implication for the world’s global carbon cycle.