A humongous rift located under West Antarctica that provides a channel for warm ocean water to creep toward the interior of the ice sheet could be accelerating ice loss, say scientists.
Since drilling through miles of ice to reach the massive underground lake, scientists have begun to speculate on what exists, or lives, in the frigid freshwater.
Lake Vostok has been capped with Antarctic ice for at least 15 million years. Now scientists have drilled 13,000 feet to reach its surface. They'll soon learn what life forms have adapted to that cold, dark locale.
News of the scientific milestone was evidently on hold, as Russian headquarters waited on some measurements from Vostok Station, the tiny outpost in the middle of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.
Beneath the ice of Antarctica is a vast mountain range that rivals the Alps in its majesty.