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Top 15 of 2015: Something Under the Ice (2)

December 29, 2015
Ross Powell and fellow NIU geologist Scherer recovered sediment from a subglacial Antarctic lake bed.

Ross Powell and Reed Scherer in the Antarctic in 2013.

Here’s a fish story that isn’t exaggerated.

Cameras sent down the drilling hole “grounding zone” where Antarctic ice, land and sea all converge revealed an unsuspected population of fish and invertebrates living beneath the ice sheet, the farthest south that fish have ever been found.

“I have been investigating these types of environments for much of my career,” said Ross Powell, a chief scientist with the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project, “and although I knew it would be difficult, I had been wanting to access this system for years because of its scientific importance.”

WISSARD is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs, which also provided the logistical support needed to succeed in the challenging Antarctic conditions. The division manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, which coordinates all U.S. scientific research on the continent.

Other NIU members of the WISSARD collaboration were geology professor Reed Scherer and graduate students Tim Hodson, Rebecca Puttkammer and Jason Coenen.